The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement after the Knox County District Attorney released new footage of the fatal police shooting of Anthony J. Thompson, Jr., a 17-year-old, at Austin-East Magnet High School. The District Attorney announced that no charges would be filed against the officers involved.
“We can’t continue to live like this, where Black men, women, and children have to live in fear and under the unending threat of state-sanctioned violence,” said Shania Lee, a volunteer with Crosstown High School Students Demand Action. “My heart is broken for the Thompson family and the other students at Austin-East, who have had to live through so much tragedy these past months.”
“There’s one undeniable fact here and that is Black people in the United States are at constant and elevated risk of being shot by the police,” said Jodi Scheer, a volunteer with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Our thoughts are with the Thompson family in this devastating time, and we’ll fight for desperately-needed reforms to policing in Tennessee and across the country.”
According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released two differing accounts of what occurred, including an incorrect assertion that Thompson fired first at officers.” The bullet which struck Officer Adam Willson, a school resource officer, was fired by Officer Clabough, who shot and killed Thompson. Thompson’s gun fired one time amid a struggle with police officers; the bullet struck a trash can. Police officers handcuffed and restrained Thompson with bodily force for several minutes, without rendering medical care, after he had been shot, despite a fellow student screaming that Thompson was bleeding. Per Knoxville Police Department policy, the involved officers were allowed to watch body camera footage of the shooting before being interviewed by investigating authorities.
In an average year, 1,193 people die by guns in Tennessee, including 111 children and teens, and another 2,220 people are wounded. More on gun violence in Tennessee is available through EveryStat here.