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Shawnee Trail resident Anita Franklin tells what she heard in the middle of the night as Chattanooga police work the scene a block away at an overnight shooting in the 300 block of Shawnee Trail in Brainerd.

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TBI steps in to investigate officer-involved shooting death

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In the early morning hours Wednesday, after celebrating his 26th birthday, a Hamilton County corrections deputy was shot and killed by a police officer after refusing to drop a firearm he allegedly used earlier to threaten two women.

Daniel Hendrix was celebrating with two off-duty female police officers at a home in the 300 block of Shawnee Trail when, for reasons that are still unclear, he became "enraged," picked up a personal firearm and began to threaten the women, said Josh DeVine, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman.

Both women fled the home and one called 911 at 1:26 a.m. Two additional Chattanooga police officers arrived on scene and found Hendrix holding the weapon, but he refused to comply with verbal commands to drop the weapon and one of the responding officers fired at him at least four times.

The officers gave him medical aid until he was transported by EMS to Erlanger, where he died.

The firearm, believed to have belonged to Hendrix, was recovered by authorities, but it was unclear whether he ever fired it. It was also unclear to authorities Wednesday what had caused Hendrix to become angry.

The identities of the two responding officers are not being released by police, but both have been placed on administrative leave per Chattanooga Police Department policy.

"It is with sadness that I announce we lost one of our correctional officers [Tuesday] night in what may be a domestic situation," said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "This officer had been with us a few years, he had completed our training and had worked in the corrections division for at least the last couple of years."

He said Hendrix went through an extensive, three-month vetting and training process before being assigned a shift at the Hamilton County Jail downtown.

"He was a young man, about 26 years of age, had his whole future ahead of him," he said. "[He] was on the path to a good career. It is a tragedy, we certainly reach out to the family, this is a tough time for them, we know."

On Wednesday, Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston requested the TBI handle the investigation.

On Wednesday morning, investigators worked behind crime scene tape strung across the street with a patrol car parked lengthwise to block traffic.

A crime scene truck could be seen parked down the street and officers were interviewing neighbors on porches.

Anita Franklin, a neighbor who lives on Shawnee Trail, said she had just come home from work when she heard the gunshots.

"It sounded like it was right in my yard," she said. "I didn't even look out the window."

She said she heard five or six loud gunshots in rapid succession and turned off all the lights in her home, thinking multiple people were shooting at each other.

The next morning, her brother called her once he saw the news to make sure she was all right. She said the incident was a shock, adding that the neighborhood is typically quiet and safe.

"We don't have that kind of stuff over here," she said. "I hate to hear that someone lost their life."

Robert Shepard, another neighbor who lives down the street from Franklin, said his dog's barking woke him up after the shooting. A resident of the neighborhood for 45 years, he said he'd never heard of anything like that happening in his community.

"It makes me feel like there are too many guns around," he said.

In 2015, Hendrix was himself arrested and suspended by the sheriff's office after an incident in which he struck a female inmate he was processing at Silverdale Correctional Facility.

According to court documents, Hendrix said he was escorting inmate Leslie Hayes, who at one point refused to lift her leg to allow him to remove her leg restraints. He said he tried to lift her leg to remove the restraint, but she began kicking him.

Hendrix said he tried to stop her from kicking him by placing her on the ground, but she began spitting in his face.

"Out of reaction I struck inmate Hayes with a closed fist to the facial area multiple times," he wrote in a report of the incident. "Inmate Hayes continued to spit on me and kick me in the face, so I deployed my [pepper] spray in a short burst on inmate Hayes facial area."

Hayes filed a lawsuit the next year alleging Hendrix used unnecessary force while jail personnel watched and then reported the facts of the incident inaccurately.

"The force Hendrix and Martin used against plaintiff amounted to unlawful force that carried a high risk of causing serious bodily harm and death, was unnecessary and unreasonable under the circumstances," the lawsuit read.

"The individual defendants gave false statements or wrote false reports, or failed to state the actual truth of the incident."

A sheriff's spokesman said the criminal charge was dismissed because Hayes didn't show for the hearing.

However, Hayes' lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court, is still pending and will likely be partially reworked said attorney Robin Flores, who filed the suit on Hayes' behalf.

Hammond said if the charges against Hendrix had been sustained, his office would have followed protocol in dealing with the situation.

"We would have done some retraining, we would have probably noted in his file what the situation was," he said, "but there was no reason for us to think that that incident had any bearing on what happened last night."

DeVine said the incident is the 15th officer-involved shooting TBI has investigated statewide in 2017, an appreciably higher number than what has been typical in years past.

"We're on track to work 90 of these, we estimate, which is pretty high for us," DeVine said. "We have some data over the past couple of years that suggest about a 45 percent increase over a five-year time frame in the number of officer-involved shootings that we've investigated."

Hendrix's family has requested privacy and will make the funeral a private affair for family and friends.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

Updated March 30 at 8:42 p.m. with the family's wishes for privacy.

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