Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie on Austin-East shooting: Policy changes may be needed


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — City Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie is speaking for the first time since the body camera footage from the officer-involved shooting at Austin-East High School that resulted in the death of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr. was released by the district attorney.

McKenzie represents the 6th District, which includes Austin-East. She said Friday that she would have a definitive opinion about what happened in the video in a week, adding that she plans to re-watch it closely.

But McKenzie did call what she has seen concerning; not only inside the school restroom but also throughout the school day. McKenzie said she feels policy changes may need to be considered going forward — not just with law enforcement, but also with the school.

The vice mayor said she understands the anger that many feel tonight.

“I’m still processing through what I witnessed on that tape because it was very hard to watch what transpired,” McKenzie said. “What I can tell you is that I think there were multiple opportunities for prevention through the course of the entire tape that we saw, from start to finish. I understand, once again, why people are so angry. I think that there were ways that it may have been handled a little better as it relates to prevention.”

McKenzie has many questions, including what is the school’s disciplinary process. Should Thompson have even been in the bathroom, or allowed to stay at the school after what happened earlier in the day? She also asks if an administrator or officer with a prior relationship with the student had gone to talk with him things may have turned out differently.

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