By David Tulis
Chattanooga cops fired two fusillades of bullets at a young dad in a housing project, mortally wounding him and handcuffing the bloodied man prior to his being rushed to a hospital, according to news reports.
The second barrage of bullets to strike Javario Eagle, 24, or land near him came when he was already injured and lying on the grass.
The city police chief in a statement suggests that officers courageously held their fire as they surrounded the erratic, emotional and seemingly dangerous Mr. Eagle.
“At least one witness has reported that the bad guy, the suspect leveled a weapon towards officers at least two times,” Police chief Fred Fletcher said. “Officers did not engage him those times. It wasn’t until they were rescuing the child and the armed suspect moved dangerously towards officers that they finally discharged their weapons.”
Police killed Mr. Eagle on Saturday at the Emma Wheeler federal slum for blacks. Video shows that the gunfire erupted as reinforcement police cars rushed up to the front of the red-brick buildings held in the frame of the phone camera lens. In the video, Mr. Eagle’s cousin Latecia Pullens is heard screaming across the way that he throw down his weapon.
Police escalated a domestic disturbance into a hostage situation, and then into a one-sided gunbattle by increasing the stakes. Mr. Eagle “was making unusual demands,” police told the media; he had placed a phone call to the department.
When officers arrived he was holding a knife and handgun, and stepped in and out of one of the apartments, presumably his residence.
The confrontation lasted no more than a few minutes, if the phone clip is any suggestion.
“He was already down,” says Katina Eagle Dunnigan, Mr. Eagle’s mother. “What made them for the love of Christ, if they even serve a god — would make them run over there and [overtly] kill my son and shoot him up like that?”
Mr. Eagle died after being shot “after he endangered a child and an officer while he was armed with a gun,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press says in its lead to the story, which continues: “‘One officer could leave cover, placing himself in a very dangerous situation to rescue this small child from the armed suspect,’ Fletcher said. ‘As the officer was trying to get the child, Eagle moved toward the officer and the child in an aggressive manner, Fletcher said. Multiple officer then fired their weapons, striking Eagle multiple times.’”
Chief Fletcher said that witnesses heard the sound of at least one gunshot from inside the 5113 Woodland View Circle apartment.
On Monday a witness told TV12: “I could see the officers aiming down at him and telling him to put his gun down. A couple of minutes after that, we see a little girl run out the way. As soon as the little girl goes out the way, they just opened fire,” he said. Noting Mr. Eagle had been hit in two bouts of gunfire, he goes on to say: “They had dude on the ground handcuffed and holding all these patches on his face and on his body where they just shot him. It’s like, this man is dying and they had to handcuff him.”
Highly colloquial — and disturbing.
“He loved her,” says Mrs. Dunnigan about the little girl purported to have been made hostage. “Every picture, every video you see him and his child. He would not do anything to harm his child.”
A TV station interviewed Signal Mountain Police Chief Mike Williams, who said that even when a man shot by police is on the ground, “officers must still assess the threat and may need to continue shooting,” as TV3 put it.
Sources: WRCBtv.com, Chattanooga Times Free Press, TV12
— David Tulis hosts a talk show weekdays in Chattanooga from 9 to 11 a.m. on 1240 AM Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. Support this site and his radio station on the real airwaves in Chattanooga, on your smartphone via the TuneIn radio app or at Hotnewstalkradio.com. You back David by patronizing his advertisers with specific reference to him. Even better, encourage independent media by having David run commercials for your business. Also, “buy me a coffee at the tip jar.”