Jury finds deadly force was justified in Somerville officer-involved shooting

The scene in the 500 block of Woodbridge Road. Photo: WREG

FAYETTE COUNTY, Tenn. — A jury has concluded a Somerville police officer was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed a suspect in June.

The jury agreed with the recommendations of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney that the deadly force was “justified, proper and necessary” and declined to indict Officer Austin Howard in the death of Michael Morris.

According to the TBI, Howard and another officer responded to a 911 call that said Morris, 54, had a steak knife and was intoxicated and suicidal.

When the officers arrived, they said Morris took out the knife and threatened to kill them. According to the TBI, the officers told him to drop and knife and tried to subdue him multiple times using nonlethal force, but Morris was unaffected.

According to the TBI, Morris advanced toward Howard with his knife, leading to Howard firing three shots.

Morris was hit and died at the scene, according to the TBI.

The officers’ dash camera captured everything. The TBI investigated the evidence and determined Howard justified in using deadly force and Morris was dangerous and put the officers and close-by family members at risk for serious injury or death.

“There is no question that Officer Howard acted legally, appropriately, and just as he was trained to do when confronted with such a dangerous situation,” DA Mike Dunavant said.