Police have released chilling video footage of the moment an officer shot a woman dead after she came at him with an ax.
According to Daily Mail, the video was recorded on Gallatin Police officer James Spray’s vest, and it opens with him getting out of his cruiser at a home where another officer had requested backup. As soon as he opens his door, 40-year-old Laronda Sweatt can be seen walking towards him with a medieval-style ax.
Spray then orders Sweatt to drop her weapon, but she refuses, so he eventually fires two shots at her. She later succumbed to her injuries.
The incident reportedly started when Sweatt became combative after Sumner County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pickard showed up at her home to serve her an eviction notice on Wednesday. WKRN reported that Sweatt stabbed Pickard with her ax.
The Gallatin Police Department released the following statement about the incident:
“Laronda Sweatt met Officer James Spray in the street and backed him up to his vehicle while threatening him with the same ax that she assaulted the Sumner Deputy.
As she continued advancing and making aggressive movement with the ax towards our officer, Officer Spray fired two shots striking Sweatt both times.
Officers immediately attended Sweatt with medical treatment; however, she later died at Sumner Regional Medical Center.
Our hearts are heavy as a life was taken and we ask the community to lift up prayers for the Sweatt family along with the law enforcement families of those involved and the employees of the Gallatin Housing Authority who witnessed this tragic incident.”
Pickard was hospitalized, but he has since been released. Spray has been placed on administrative leave while an internal investigation takes place.
“Laronda was a very sweet, caring person until you pushed her,” her mother Ella Sweatt said. “Laronda wasn’t violent unless you made her violent. She was a good mother, she took good care of her child. Her and I had our ups and downs, but…I love Laronda dearly.”
“Laronda didn’t like to fight,” she continued. “All through school the child had to fight. They picked on her because she was small. Yea, she was a beautiful young lady and she’s still a beautiful lady who died. She died a beautiful lady. And I’m not gonna be satisfied until I get the truth.”
Sweatt’s cousin Henry Apple told the Tennessean that Laronda had a “mental problem.”
“She was a good person,” he said. “It could have been avoided, him killing her and shooting her in the chest like that. It could have been avoided.”
Police, however, are standing by Spray and they released the video in an attempt to show that he had no choice but to shoot her.
“Transparency is key here,” said Gallatin Police Chief Don Bandy. “We have video cameras inside our cars. We also have body cameras, and they were all active. They have been turned over at the scene to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.”
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