Mayor Rogero: KPD to conduct standard internal investigation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On November 7, The Knox County District Attorney's Office said the Knoxville Police Officer who shot and killed Channara Tom Pheap in August was justified in the shooting.

Photo of 33-year-old Channara Tom Pheap at vigil./(WVLT)

Investigators released video showing an altercation between Pheap and the officer and said they believe the officer was tased with his own taser.

DA Charme Allen addressed reports saying that Pheap was shot in the back and called them "false" citing the physical evidence as an indicator that the bullet that killed Pheap traveled from left to right across his body.

Officer Dylan Williams will not face charges in the shooting.

A letter released by the law office working with the family of a man shot and killed by a Knoxville Police Department asks Knoxville officials for the records surrounding their family member's death.

Channara Tom Pheap, 33, was shot killed in an officer-involved shooting on August 26. Investigators said police responded to 1716 Merchants Drive that evening for reports of a hit-and-run situation. While there, police said they got in an altercation with a suspect, which resulted in a shooting.

Officials identified the officer involved as Ofc. Dylan Williams. Williams released a statement via his attorney stating that he feared for his life.

Since the shooting, Pheap's family has been active in the community, hosting a rally and attending a council meeting to discuss police body cameras for KPD officers.

However, the family said the City of Knoxville and Knox County have not been cooperative in releasing information to the family about the exact circumstances surrounding Pheap's death.

A letter released to WVLT by the Baker Law Firm addressed to city and county officials said, "We're sure you all agree that Mr. Pheap's family is entitled to know the facts surrounding his death."

The letter said on September 9 the family asks for multiple records from the city including: the 911 call of the hit-and-run, the police report and all witness reports of the hit-and-run, cruiser video of the hit-and-run, Pheap's autopsy, witness statements on the shooting and medical records of Pheap following the shooting.

"While we did not expect to receive all of the materials we requested...we certainly believed that a good-faith repsonse would have resulted in the production of more than Officer Williams' personnel file. It is, therefore, highly disappointing...that both of our local law enforcement agencies and their legal advisors have largely opted against transparency, buried their heads in the sand, and chosen secrecy instead."

"Please consider this our final request that you produce all non-exempt records that should have fairly been produced in response to our requests...If we have not received satisfactory responses from the city and/or the county by the close of business on Friday...we will file a petition in the Chancery Court or Knox County next week seeking the records."

After the DA's conference, Knoxville mayor Madeline Rogero released a statement saying, "I want to express my appreciation to District Attorney General Charme Allen and her office for their careful and diligent review of the facts in this most serious matter."

"Our hearts are with the family, friends, community members, Officer Williams and KPD officers who were affected by this tragic event. We sincerely appreciate the community's patience in allowing the facts to come to light.

Now that the DA has determined that no criminal charges will be filed, the next step will be an investigation by KPD's Internal Affairs Unit (IAU). The IAU investigation will determine whether Officer Williams violated an departmental policies."

The mayor said Officer Williams is still on administrative leave and the mayor's office won't issue any comments until the investigation is complete.

Williams' representatives, Donald A. Bosch and The Bosch Law Firm, P.C., sent a release to media outlets. "This shooting, while tragic, was unavoidable to protect the life of Officer Dylan Williams, as well as the safety of the public at large"

"Officer Williams has been and remains an outstanding officer in this community. He is thankful that this matter has now been cleared by the District Attorney General and looks forward to resuming his efforts in community policing in the near future."

Rogero's statement also added that the investigation's findings will be reviewed by the citizens' Police Advisory & Review Committee.

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