CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Authorities have concluded their special investigation into a deadly officer-involved shooting that occurred near Parrottsville, Tenn. in May 2023 that resulted in the death of a female suspect. Investigators say the police officers acted in self-defense against the suspect, who was under the influence of methamphetamine.
According to a news release shared by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference on Friday, Nov. 3, the special prosecutor appointed by a Cocke County Judge from the District Attorney General 7th Judicial District Office has determined there will be no criminal charges filed against the two law enforcement officers involved in the May 2023 shooting death of Whitney Leanne Fox.
The special prosecutor found that the police shooting of the Cocke County fugitive, Fox, “was justified and declines prosecution,” the news release states.
Fox, 36, had multiple outstanding arrest warrants and had evaded arrest from deputies with the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office and Parrottsville Police Department; which had led to the pursuit that ended with the shooting, Fox’s death and officer injury along Fox Hollow Road in the Bybee community near Parrottsville on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
“Unknown to the deputies was Fox’s level of impairment,” the Nov. 3 news release states. “Following the completion of an autopsy, the Medical Examiner’s Office found that Ms. Fox(‘s) blood contained high levels of methamphetamine. Specifically, the amount of meth found in her blood was double the amount normally associated with irrational and violent behavior in meth abusers.”
Body-worn camera footage aided in the investigation which was initially led by the Tennesee Bureau of Investigation. The DA’s Office shared images from the bodycam footage as part of the news release on Friday.
A concluding memo states that during the pursuit and traffic stop, both officers exited their vehicles to initiate a felony stop. When both deputies approached Fox’s vehicle, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade, the doors were locked and all the windows were closed. Fox gave no sign that she was willing to surrender without one of the officers manually and forcefully entering the vehicle; when one of them tried to break the window of Fox’s vehicle, she abruptly moved the vehicle in reverse.
Then, the vehicle swept the side of one of the law enforcement vehicles and both officers were in danger of being struck. That’s when they began firing their service weapons. Fox put her vehicle in drive and began moving forward.
“It was reasonable to assume that any thought that the vehicle was disabled, or that the subject (Fox) had surrendered were forgone,” the memo states. “Both deputies were placed in the position of being on foot in an open field with a driver who had no intention of surrendering and who was in command of a fully operational vehicle, which could reasonably be considered a deadly weapon.”
Fox was shot 13 times. Bodycam footage audio captured 22 shots fired by the two officers. Both ceased fire after Fox passed their position.
The news release also states that based upon the conclusions of the TBI’s findings and the Medical Examiner’s report, the special prosecutor with the district attorney general’s office determined that no criminal charges will be filed.