TBI roundtable in Memphis sheds light on officer-involved shooting investigations, manpower challenges

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Tuesday in Memphis, leaders with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation did not hold back, saying they need more agents.     

A TBI roundtable touched on officer-involved shooting investigations, including last month’s killing of a wanted man, Brandon Webber, by U.S. Marshals.

TBI leaders shed new light on how their team responded that dramatic night in Frayser last month.

They also admitted that investigating every non-deadly officer involved shooting in Shelby County isn’t possible with their limited manpower.

With chaos June 12th on Overton Crossing, TBI agents used caution.

“I’m not going to endanger their lives,” TBI Special Agent In Charge Johnny Simmons said.

So, Simmons kept his team back until this crowd calmed down.

“My decision as a manager is the agents’ safety is paramount,” Simmons said.

But Simmons admitted Tuesday that gap of time could be critical in the TBI’s investigation of Webber’s shooting death by U.S. Marshals.

“It’s hard to say if there were witnesses at the time who may have filtered away,” Simmons said.

In Shelby County, an agreement dictates District Attorney Amy Weirich call in the TBI to independently investigate anytime a U.S. Marshal, Memphis Police officer, or Shelby County Sheriff’s deputy kills someone in the line of duty.

TBI leaders said each case is timely and taxing.

“It’s difficult, it affects them, it affects their family life,” Simmons said.

Last September, after Memphis Police officers shot and injured Martavious Banks in south Memphis, some suggested the TBI investigate every officer-involved shooting in Shelby County, whether the person died or not.

To the TBI, that idea is a no go.

“There’s no way we could handle that with the manpower that we have, there’s no way that the four agents we have could handle that,” Simmons said.

As the TBI continues its investigations into Webber and other cases, Simmons offered this message.

“The facts are going to play out however they play out, we are not going to guide the facts, we are not going to curb the facts,” Simmons said.

In the last four years, the TBI investigated 22 officer-involved shootings in Shelby County. That’s close to the 30 cases total in all of the 20 other west Tennessee counties combined.

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