Woman dies after being shot by police officer in South Knoxville

Local News

Authorities confirmed Tuesday the woman shot after holding a knife and approaching a Knoxville police officer on Monday afternoon has died. 

Sierra McCauley, 23, was shot by police after Knoxville police responded to multiple calls of a woman cutting herself on Compton Street in South Knoxville.

A second caller said the woman was outside the home, nude, and was cutting herself.

Another call came in saying the woman had cut someone else. Two officers arrived on the scene and found the woman armed with a military-style knife. Police say interaction between officers and the woman escalated, which resulted in one of them firing at the woman to protect himself.

McCauley was taken to the hospital where she later died as a result of her injuries. The officer was not hurt. The other person who was cut was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

One neighbor near the scene, who wanted to remain anonymous for his safety, said he saw the woman cutting herself with a knife before police arrived and called 911. 

“It’s kind of sad, in a way, everything that happened out here in a way,” said the South Knoxville resident. 

The neighbor says he didn’t know the victim, or the woman with the knife, but that she came to his door before police arrived asking if he had a gun. 

“She [came] to my front door, the lady with the knife did. I thought she was gonna come at me. She asked if I had a gun. I said no,” said the neighbor. 

He says once he told her “No” he also asked if she would put the knife down and be calm, to which he says, she left his home and went back to her own front yard. There, the neighbor says, she began pouring charcoal lighter fluid on herself. 

 “The way she was cutting herself up, putting the lighter fluid on herself trying to set herself on fire… disturbing,” said the neighbor. 

He says even after the shooting, he tried to keep the victim calm, until he was asked by law enforcement to stay back for his own safety. Above all, he says, he prayed. 

“I prayed for her also, that, you know… everything would be well. That’s all I could do. I tried to calm them both down,” said the neighbor. 

James Gadd, the officer who fired his weapon will be put on administrative leave with pay, per usual procedure. Gadd is a 23-year veteran with the Knoxville Police Department.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.

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