Three Germantown police officers who shot and killed a 49-year-old armed man last year while responding to a domestic-violence call acted with legal justification, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said Thursday.
The decision is based on the law and a comprehensive report of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crime Response Team.
The incident occurred in the early-morning hours of May 17, 2020, at a residence in the 6900 block of Corsica Drive in Germantown where a woman called 911 emergency saying her husband had assaulted her and had fired a shot in their backyard.
When police arrived, they got no answer at the front door, but heard a commotion toward the back of the house and a woman screaming. As the officers moved around the side of the house and toward the backyard, they saw homeowner Brian Cooper armed with an AR-style rifle and with a handgun in his front pocket.
The uniformed officers identified themselves and ordered Cooper to drop his weapon and to put his hands up. Cooper did not comply, but instead began to raise his weapon. The officers then fired simultaneously, striking him 12 times.
Cooper, who was pronounced dead at the scene, had with him a .223 M-4 rifle, a .308-caliber AR-style rifle, two handguns and a black bag with multiple rounds of ammunition. He had amphetamine in his system and a blood-alcohol content of .211.
His wife was found inside on the kitchen floor. She told police her husband had beaten her and removed several weapons from a gun safe. She was treated at a hospital and released.
“Domestic-violence calls are among the most dangerous and unpredictable situations police officers ever encounter,” said DA Weirich. “Emotions are high and physical violence, weapons and alcohol often are involved. All of that awaited these Germantown officers that night.
“The officers identified themselves, ordered the resident to drop his weapon and fired simultaneously when he began to raise his rifle instead, placing them in immediate danger. Under the law, their actions were justified because the individual posed a threat of serious bodily injury. He gave them no choice.”
According to procedure, DA Weirich asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to handle the investigation and to compile a report on the incident, including witness interviews, videos, crime scene photos, ballistics, autopsy results, and other details.
The TBI report was reviewed by the Officer Involved Death Review Team, which includes DA Weirich and five senior attorneys. The decision considers only state criminal law.
The TBI report, as well as a PowerPoint summary by DA Weirich, can be viewed at https://www.scdag.com/officer-involved-deaths. Redactions have been made in accordance with Tennessee law and privacy standards.