Another shooting involving police officers occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Memphis, this one gaining national attention after the victim’s lifeless body was left in the street for several hours.
Johnathan Bratcher and a friend were traveling in a Chevy Impala when two police officers — one White, one Black — pulled them over for an unknown traffic infraction, The Commercial Appeal Memphis reports. Police said the two then sped off, forcing the officers to pursue them from a distance. After crashing into another car near the St. Andrew A.M.E. Church, the men took off on foot with the officers close behind.
Officials and witnesses gave contrasting accounts of what happened next. One of the men pulled out a gun and began firing at officers, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said to reporters on Wednesday.
The officers returned fire, reportedly striking Bratcher in the head. The other man, who hasn’t been identified, is still on the run. Witnesses, however, claim Bratcher was unarmed and his body was left behind the church for several hours before being taken to the hospital.
An off-duty Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy also took part in the chase, but did not fire his weapon.
Bratcher, 32, died at the scene, writes the news outlet.
Arkansas Matters reports:
Investigators have not confirmed the identity of the person killed. But Mario Duncan said it was his 30-year-old brother-in-law Johnathan Bratcher. He questions what really happened. “You’re not in danger if this man done jumped out the car and ran,” said Duncan. “how is his life in danger if you done hit him with the car and threw him in handcuffs and shot him in the back of the head?”
DeVine said Bratcher was not handcuffed at the time of the shooting.
An investigation is currently underway.
In October 2015, the city received 500 body cameras out of the 2,000 ordered for the Memphis Police Department. Jim Strickland, the city’s newly elected mayor, informed the public that the program was “suspended indefinitely” because the process was rushed. The program also included an introduction of dash cameras to squad cars.
According to city communications chief Ursula Madden, two officers on the scene had body cameras. “There are two officers who have body cameras that are used as a field test. It is policy that the scene investigator can ask for cameras to be turned off once the investigation is underway,” she said. However, other officials claim the two officers who are currently testing the new body cameras were not present when the shooting occurred.
The Memphis police may release the names of the officers involved at their own discretion.
In a statement, Mayor Jim Strickland said, “I have been made aware of an officer-involved shooting today. However, TBI is the lead agency investigating. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of this case. This is a reminder of the dangers our officers face on a daily basis, even on something as routine as a traffic stop.”
Bratcher’s family insists he wouldn’t carry a gun due to his lengthy history with the law. In the past, he has faced charges for assault, aggravated robbery, theft, and drug possession. His family confirmed he was recently released from jail and was expecting another child.
Bratcher is survived by his five-year-old daughter.