This story was updated on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, at 5:37 p.m. with additional information.
Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston says he will not be charging sheriff's deputy Jordan Long in the May shooting death of Tyler Hays or in the subsequent non-fatal shooting of a man in August.
Long has been at the center of three separate pursuits that resulted in him firing his weapon — hitting two people, one of whom was killed — within three months.
In the three instances, Long was placed on administrative leave for as long as 17 days, records show.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on the clearing of Long's criminal case.
In the first incident, Long attempted to pull Hays over in the early morning hours of May 18, though the reason for the traffic stop has not been disclosed.
Hays did not stop until later and then reportedly fled on foot. At that time, Long "shot Tyler Hays after Hays reportedly fought with the deputy," the district attorney's news release states.
Pinkston then asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the case. Now, upon reviewing the TBI's findings, Pinkston has determined that Long's use of deadly force was justified.
"After reviewing the TBI's investigative file and applicable state law," Pinkston said in a statement, "there is no evidence of criminal liability on the part of the involved HCSO Officer."
Hays' mother, Deborah Lilly, said Monday that she doesn't believe justice has been served and that her son did not deserve to be shot in the back.
According to the Hamilton County medical examiner's report, there was "no powder stippling or soot, no muzzle mark on the surrounding skin and no charring" on the victim. He received an "intermediate range" gunshot wound to his mid-back. The bullet was lodged in his right shoulder.
Long was placed on administrative leave for five days.
Two-and-a-half weeks after returning to duty, Long fired his weapon at a fleeing suspect.
The TBI was not asked to investigate, according to Marion County District Attorney Mike Taylor, as no one was injured as a result of the shooting. The sheriff's office did conduct its own internal investigation.
In that case, 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 Tyra fled and "violently struck" Long's open driver's side door as he was exiting his vehicle, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Long then shot at Tyra, though Tyra was not struck.
Long was placed on administrative leave and returned to duty within 13 days.
In the third incident, Long again tried to conduct a traffic stop. It was Aug. 23, and the suspect — 50-year-old Ronald Andrew Hutson — like the others, also fled.
Hutson eventually lost control of the vehicle he was driving, and it spun out of control on Hixson Springs Road.
Then Hutson drove toward multiple deputies, and one of them — Long — opened fire. Hutson was injured and taken to a local hospital.
Long was placed on administrative leave and returned to full duty on Sept. 9, 17 days after the shooting.
Pinkston asked the TBI to investigate that incident. After reviewing the evidence, Pinkston determined last week that Long's use of potentially deadly force in that incident was justified, "and there was no criminal liability on the part of anyone at HCSO."
Before joining the sheriff's office, Long was a Collegedale police officer. While there, he faced a civil lawsuit that accused him of yanking a man into oncoming traffic. Long's supervisor pulled the men back onto the side of the road.
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."