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Cop Uses AR-15 To Kill Man Holding Water Main Key (Video)

East Ridge, Tennessee, Police Lieutenant Daniel Stephenson shot and killed Todd Browning at point-blank range with an assault rifle on Aug. 19, which was caught on Stephenson's police dash cam (video below).

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office announced in November that Stephenson's use of deadly force was justified because he was wearing a police uniform, had "exhausted all reasonable means to apprehend Browning" (after setting him free minutes earlier at an AutoZone store) and that Stephenson had "probable cause" to think Browning would kill him with a water main key, noted The Chattanoogan.

East Ridge Police Department Capt. Tim Mullinax recently told The Daily Beast that Stephenson originally answered a call at the AutoZone store about Browning acting strangely and allegedly threatening workers with a knife.

Outside the AutoZone store, Stephenson's dash cam video showed him talking to Browning, allowing Browning to get into his pickup truck, talking some more to Browning and allowing Browning to drive away. Stephenson then casually walked to his patrol car.

Minutes later, Stephenson arrived at Browning's home for reasons unknown, opened his trunk, pulled out an AR-15 and pointed the weapon at Browning, who was off-camera.

"You wanna shoot me? Do it!" Browning shouted from off-camera while reportedly holding the water main key.

"Stay there!" Stephenson demanded. "Stay in the yard!"

As Browning slowly walked forward and stopped, Stephenson shot him four times with the AR-15.

The East Ridge police and the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office would not tell The Daily Beast what happened inside the AutoZone store, nor would they comment on the existence of security video inside the store or why Stephenson went to Browning's home.

Stephenson’s attorney, Bryan Hoss, painted a dramatic version of events that occurred inside the AutoZone back in September to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hoss said that Browning, who was yelling and screaming, threatened to kill Stephenson and himself, and then charged at Stephenson, who simply pushed him away.

"[Stephenson] very likely could have used deadly force against this guy inside the store," Hoss told the newspaper. "He showed some restraint by holstering his weapon."

Hoss said that Browning ran out the door, jumped in his car and quickly drove away -- however, that is clearly not the case, as seen on Stephenson's dash cam video.

Hoss said that Stephenson wrote down Browning's license plate number, which helped police track down Browning's home.

Stephenson was the first cop to arrive at Browning's home, only minutes after letting him go free.

"Because of [Stephenson's] prior experience with SWAT, his entire intention was to set up a perimeter," Hoss stated.

According to Hoss, Stephenson had loaned his Taser to another officer, and had to use the AR-15.

Hoss said that Browning walked outside with a 3-foot-long steel plumbing tool and told Stephenson that he would have to kill him, and that Stephenson told Browning to drop his weapon, which was the water main key.

Hoss claimed that Browning came toward Stephenson in "a threatening manner," which is not what the video shows.

Two witnesses said that Browning lunged toward Stephenson, which is not true, as can bee seen in the video.

A third witness told the newspaper that Browning was using a pipe to hit the ground (off-camera), while a fourth witness said Browning was 20 feet away from Stephenson when he (Stephenson) fired.

Launa Browning, the mother of the deceased man, told The Daily Beast: "I was prepared to see this irate person coming at the officer as he’s been described [in the video]. I just didn’t see that."

The Daily Beast could not reach the Hamilton County sheriff’s detective who came up with evidence that convinced the district attorney not to charge Stephenson.

"I am devastated by the way my son had to [die]," Browning's bereaved mom told the news site. "This whole thing is just a terrible, horrible mishap of justice."


Sources: The Chattanoogan, The Daily Beast, Chattanooga Times Free Press / Photo credit: Timothy Tsui/FlickrEast Ridge,Tennessee Police Department

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