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Todd Browning

The 54-year-old man shot and killed by an East Ridge police officer on Aug. 19 was shouting about blowing things up and being killed by police before he was shot, a witness said.

Todd Browning was shot to death by an unidentified East Ridge police officer outside Browning's home on Prigmore Drive after 6 p.m. on Aug. 19.

Officials won't say what sort of weapon the man brandished in the moments before he was shot to death, and investigators are refusing to answer questions about what happened during the fatal encounter.

But Lawrence Jones, a neighbor who saw the shooting, said he stepped outside when he heard yelling and saw a police officer standing behind his patrol car with a rifle leveled at Browning, who was about 20-30 feet away.

Browning was irate, screaming and yelling, Jones said. It looked like Browning was carrying a tire iron and perhaps a knife — Jones saw something shiny in his hand. Another witness said Browning was pounding a pipe or a stick against the ground.

As Browning yelled, the officer shouted for Browning to put his weapons down, Jones said.

"The cop said probably six or seven times to 'stop, drop it, stop,' and Todd kept screaming louder and louder, more and more irate and finally he started to come towards the cop," Jones said. "He started to lunge at the cop and the cop pulled the trigger, five times."

Other witnesses reported hearing four shots. Jones said Browning went down after the first shot and didn't move again. The officer, who was the only officer on the scene at the time, put his rifle into his trunk and went to check on Browning as other officers pulled up, Jones said.

Jones guessed that he watched the exchange for about 90 seconds before the shooting, but estimated the officer had been out there for three or four minutes before the shooting.

Jones said some of the arriving officers gave Browning medical care, and that they also handcuffed him.

Sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea initially said police responded to a report of a man wielding a knife at a nearby Autozone on Ringgold Road around 6 p.m. At some point, Browning moved from the Autozone to his home. Lea declined to say how or when the incident moved from the Autozone to Prigmore Drive.

He and Melydia Clewell, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County District Attorney's office, also declined to say what happened at the Autozone, what time the first officer arrived at Browning's house, how long the officer was on scene before he opened fire, how many times the officer fired, what weapon the officer used or how many times Browning was hit.

They would not identify the officer or say whether the shooting was captured on video, citing the ongoing investigation.

Clewell said she had a legal responsiblity to discourage officials from talking about the case.

"The DA's office is barred by the state Supreme Court from making extrajudicial statements in criminal investigations," she said in a statement. "Under TSC Rule 3.8 f, the District Attorney is also obligated to discourage investigators, law enforcement personnel and any others associated with the prosecutor from discussing a criminal investigation."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas. Follow @ShellyBradbury.

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