A Hamilton County sheriff's deputy was back on duty less than a week after reportedly shooting and killing a man following a brief pursuit last month.
Now, the dead man's mother is searching for answers after the deputy, Jordan Long, was again involved in a vehicle pursuit on Wednesday during which he fired his weapon. No one was injured.
Long is still under investigation by the sheriff's office internal affairs division and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation following the May 18 deadly shooting of 29-year-old Tyler Hays. And late last year, Long was accused in a lawsuit of assaulting a man during a traffic stop while he was a Collegedale police officer.
That lawsuit has now been settled for $7,500 "at the recommendation of our insurance counsel," Collegedale city attorney Sam Elliott said in an email. "[T]he settlement is not to be deemed an admission of any wrongdoing."
Hays' mother, Deborah Lilly, said she wants to know why her son was shot and why the deputy was back on duty so soon.
"I'm hundreds of miles away," Lilly, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, said Thursday. "I don't have anybody else. That's why I made 100 phone calls, because ... I have no one that I can talk to that can get these answers for me. Who is my advocate? Who is my 'mom-advocate'?"
She said the TBI and the sheriff's office haven't been forthcoming with her, a sentiment that has been echoed by other victims of alleged brutality by the sheriff's office and their families.
In September 2019, James Hilton Glaze, 76, was shot to death by seven Hamilton County deputies — Sgt. Mickey Rountree, Cpl. Breeland Kilgore and deputies Nick Dewey, Charlene Choate, Hunter Moore, Todd Cook and Joseph Sanchez. The investigation has been closed with no prosecution, and the victim's son, Corey Glaze, is still waiting for answers, he said.
In April 2019, Charles Bradley Payne, 42, was killed after deputies were called to a home in the 9100 block of Broyles Drive in East Brainerd on reports of a "disorderly subject." Months later, Payne's family filed an open records request asking for the names of the deputies and other records pertaining to the event. The request was denied within a day.
The Times Free Press later requested the names of the involved deputies, and after it published those names — Brandon Bennett, John Robbs and Daniel Rowell — it became the "sole source of the identities of the individual defendants," attorney Robin Flores wrote in a wrongful death lawsuit.
"I see all these people marching in the street, and I feel for them," Lilly said, referencing the local and nationwide protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man, while pinned under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
"You put this officer on the street three weeks and two days after you killed my son," she said. "I deserve to know why and how. Where was he shot? In the front or back? And prove to me why he deserved it, and we'll put this away. I can move on, you can move on. So I can get some closure. But being danced around this ... I'm exhausted ... I'm on crazy woman mode. I'm really trying to keep it reeled in."
Citing the ongoing investigation, the TBI declined to confirm whether it was made aware of Long's return to duty and subsequent involvement in a second pursuit during which he fired his weapon. Long referred a request for comment to his attorney, who did not immediately respond.
Sheriff Jim Hammond cleared Long to return to duty on May 23 — five days after the shooting — following a "preliminary review of the incident and known facts" that led Hammond to determine that "extended leave was not warranted," sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea said by email.
What the preliminary review revealed, however, is not clear, as the sheriff's office declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigations.
"Following a critical incident where deadly force is used, deputies are required to complete a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing during which time, a mental health representative is present," Lea said. "If concerns arise regarding the employee's mental health, they are then required to undergo a Fit for Duty Evaluation."
Long did undergo a debriefing, Lea said, but it's not clear what the outcome of that debriefing was, as it's protected under federal health care privacy laws.
Like the pursuit involving Hays, Wednesday's pursuit took place around 2 a.m. Long spotted the suspect — Eric Hayes Tyra, 37 — in the 500 Block of Signal Mountain Boulevard and tried to pull him over for a vehicle light violation.
But "the driver's actions immediately became reckless," the sheriff's office said in a news release, and "violently struck" Long's open driver's side door as he was exiting. Long then shot at Tyra, though Tyra was not struck, the news release states.
Tyra was later apprehended with the help of the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol and taken to the Hamilton County Jail, where he was charged with felony reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, reckless driving, driving on a revoked license and violation of light law.
Long has been placed on administrative leave with pay for a minimum of five days, sheriff's office spokeswoman Rachel Frizzell said. The incident is under internal affairs review.
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