Dramatic bodycam footage shows police shooting dead a Tennessee teen in his high school bathroom as he grabs a gun while resisting arrest — as officials announced that none of the officers will be charged.
Anthony J. Thompson Jr., 17, was sitting in a bathroom stall in Knoxville’s Austin-East Magnet High School when officers came in to arrest him on April 12 after his ex-girlfriend’s mom lodged a formal complaint of domestic abuse.
As he was told to put his hands behind his back to be cuffed, the teen suddenly struggled as he reached for a handgun in his hoodie — with it firing during the struggle.
Officer Jonathon Clabough saw the gun “with Anthony Thompson’s hand” on the butt and “thinks, ‘I’m about to die,’” Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said while releasing the footage during a two-hour press conference Wednesday.
Clabough can be seen removing his weapon and shooting Thompson in the shoulder, firing again as Thompson fell to the ground with the officers surrounding him.
The teen’s gun fell to the ground during the scuffle, but the officers all said they did not know that at the time — and assumed he had it in his hand ready to fire.
Clabough’s second shot accidentally hit police Officer Adam Wilson in the leg, a wound that the officers initially thought was from Thompson shooting, Allen said.
The footage showed another student in the bathroom also cuffed and held on the floor, where he can be heard crying out in distress at seeing blood coming from his fellow student’s body.
At least three other Austin-East students have died from gun violence this year, officials noted.
A medical examiner report showed that, because of the way Clabough shot Thompson, there was nothing the officers or school nurse could have done to save his life.
“This is a self-defense case,” Allen insisted as he announced no charges would be pressed.
“It wasn’t an easy case; it wasn’t clean cut,” he said, then adding that “at the end of the day, we have found the shooting by Officer Clabough was justified.”
Knoxville police Chief Eve Thomas said in a statement that she was thankful the investigation determined that her officers’ actions were justified and “cleared of any wrongdoing.”
Thompson’s family spent four hours with Allen earlier that day going over every detail of the footage, she said.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said she had reached out to Thompson’s family to express her sympathy but they did not want to meet with her.
“My heart goes out to the family of Anthony Thompson Jr. and also the other families of children who have lost their lives in other circumstances, all in such a short time all from the same school. It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
The family is being represented by Ben Crump, the high-profile civil rights attorney who also helped George Floyd’s family.
“Once again, when a black person is killed, in this case a black child, the police quickly shape a narrative to justify the death,” Crump had said Monday, before the footage was released.
After pausing in-person classes because of the most recent shooting, students will return Thursday.
With Post wires