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Protesters demand release of body camera footage of Tennessee high school shooting

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — Protests unfolded in Tennessee Friday with demands police release body camera footage of the officer-involved high school shooting that left one student dead and a police officer wounded.

The shooting happened at Austin-East Magnet High School in east Knoxville on Monday. Police said a 17-year-old student had a gun inside the school and was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers in a bathroom.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation into the shooting, identified the teen as Anthony J. Thompson Jr.

The TBI shared a report update Wednesday and said during a subsequent struggle with police, the student’s gun was fired, then law enforcement fired twice.

Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the Knoxville Police Department officer was not fired from the student’s handgun, accoording to the TBI report. The wounded officer was transported to the UT Medical Center with injuries that are not expected to be life threatening.

It is unknown which officer shot the student or how many officers or students were in the restroom at the time of the shooting, the report concluded. What exactly happened between police and Thompson is still under investigation.

On Friday, dozens of protesters rallied outside the Knoxville Police Department demanding the release of footage of the officer-involved shooting.

Protesters say the TBI’s initial report on the incident was inaccurate and the public deserves to see the footage.

“As officers entered the restroom, the subject reportedly fired shots, striking an officer,” TBI said in an initial statement. One officer returned fire, striking the suspect, the TBI said.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, TBI director David Rausch told reporters in the initial briefing Monday evening.

“Originally they said the reason why he got shot was because he shot the officer, but then that wasn’t true. So I’m hoping we’ll see what actually happened,” Knoxville resident Aimee Jackson said to local ABC affiliate WATE.

District Attorney General Charme Allen said in a press conference Thursday she will not immediately release the footage. She said releasing it before the investigation is complete could “taint the criminal integrity of this case.”

Earlier this week, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon asked that the body camera footage to be released, but that request was denied.

The four officers involved in the incident have been identified as Officer Adam Willson, Lieutenant Stanley Cash, Officer Jonathon Clabough and Officer Brian Baldwin. They are all on administrative leave.

Willson, who was serving as the Austin-East school resource officer, was the officer who was shot and remains hospitalized.

Three of those officers — Cash, Baldwin and Clabough — said they wanted the body camera video released.

The law firm of Donald A. Bosch, representing those officers, said in a statement released Friday: “In the days following this tragic incident, there has been significant confusion over what occurred.”

“In an effort to accurately inform the public, all three officers fully support the release of all unedited body camera footage related to this incident. As Mayor Kincannon has publicly expressed, she, along with these officers, agree that the public interest is best served by the immediate release of these videos,” the statement said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Gun laws in Tennessee have been in the spotlight after Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill last week that would allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns — either open carry or concealed carry — without a permit, background check or training.

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