Shelby County DA’s Office rules deputy was justified in shooting, killing man near 201 Poplar

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James Kirkwood

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has ruled a deputy was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed a man in 2019 following a foot chase near the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar.

A deputy shot and killed 49-year-old James Lee Kirkwood in the area of Fourth Street between Poplar Avenue and Exchange, across the street from the Shelby County Jail, on August 5, 2019.

The deputy was responding to a report of a sexual assault. A woman told the deputy a man sexually assaulted her while she was paying at a parking meter.

The deputy spotted Kirkwood, who he believed to be involved with the reported assault. The DA’s office says Kirkwood led the deputy on a foot chase through an alleyway and a parking lot.

The DA’s office says that when the deputy caught Kirkwood on Fourth Street, he tried to subdue Kirkwood with pepper spray. Kirkwood then reportedly attacked the deputy with a knife, slashing him on the left arm.

The deputy then pulled out his gun and shot Kirkwood, reportedly striking him seven times. Kirkwood was taken to the hospital in critical condition but later died from his injuries.

Shelby County DA Amy Weirich asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the shooting.

“The deputy had already sustained serious bodily injury, and it is reasonable to believe he faced further injury had he not acted to protect himself,” Weirich said in a release sent Friday afternoon.

WREG obtained surveillance footage at the time of the shooting.

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