Greenback, TN – A Blount County deputy has been cleared of any wrongdoing for fatally shooting an axe-wielding man who was trying to attack him (video below).
"After reviewing the findings of the [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] and the [Blount County Sheriff’s Office] investigation, the Blount County District Attorney General’s Office ruled the deputy’s actions were justifiable based on the circumstances, and that the deputy’s actions were in compliance with Tennessee state law," the sheriff’s office said in a news release, according to WBIR.
The incident occurred just after 3:30 p.m. on Sep. 30, when a woman called police and told them that her son, 40-year-old Brian Lee Rogers, was “acting erratically,” WBIR reported.
Dashcam footage showed a figure moving in front of a garage before it disappeared into a patch of shrubbery as the patrol car proceeded up the roadway.
When Deputy Pekala pulled up at the home, Rogers immediately sprinted towards the patrol vehicle with an axe grasped in his right hand.
A woman rushed after him, and attempted to grab onto him at one point, but failed.
The deputy quickly reversed his vehicle down the street, as Rogers chased after him.
Investigators said the deputy had backed his cruiser approximately 320 feet away from Rogers before the man slowed to a walk, The Daily Times reported.
Once Rogers came to a stop, Deputy Pekala backed away further, creating an approximate 30-yard gap between him and the axe-wielding assailant.
"When he stopped, he stepped out of his patrol vehicle and issued several verbal warnings to Rogers to drop the weapon, but Rogers did not comply and continued to charge toward him with the axe," the sheriff’s office said, according to WBIR.
“F--king back up, dude,” the deputy warned Rogers in the video. “Stop right now! I’m about to shoot you!”
“Come here, boy,” Rogers responded, according to The Daily Times.
“Stop right now! I’m about to shoot you!” the deputy warned him again.
As Rogers closed in on Deputy Pekala, who was off-camera, he walked out of the dashcam’s view and six shots rang out.
“Shots fired,” Deputy Pekala immediately radioed, as a woman screamed in the distance.
Rogers was rushed to a local hospital with gunshot wounds to his stomach, leg, groin, chest, and head, The Daily Times reported.
He was pronounced dead a short while later.
Deputy Pekala was placed on paid administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting was under investigation, as per department policy.
“More often than not, law enforcement officers must make split second decisions when they are confronted with an individual who is armed,” Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said in the release, according to WBIR.
“Many citizens do not realize the dangers and complexities of police work,” Sheriff Berrong said. “In Blount County, we are blessed with great community support, but across the country, criticism of law enforcement officers is on the increase.”
“Our deputies faithfully continue to uphold their oaths and protect our citizens, despite knowing they will be second-guessed in traditional and social media,” the sheriff continued. “They are also aware they are a target because of the uniform they wear.”
“I stand by my deputies,” he said.
Deputy Pekala returned to his regular duties this week, according to his department.
You can watch dashcam footage of his encounter with Rogers in the video below: