The victim, 17-year-old Anthony Thompson, Jr., was suspected of violently assaulting his girlfriend. When officers tried to detain him, the handgun that Thompson was illegally carrying inside his sweater went off.
The mother of a Tennessee teenager who was killed by Knoxville police inside a high school has filed a federal lawsuit over the shooting.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit was filed Monday by Chananda Robinson, the mother of the late 17-year-old Anthony Thompson, Jr., who died inside Austin-East High School last April.
The lawsuit names as defendants the City of Knoxville, the Knoxville Police Department, and the Knox County Board of Education.
In her complaint, Robinson alleges that Knoxville police officers did not follow proper law enforcement training and procedures, did not provide medical care to Thompson, Jr., and were not properly trained in de-escalation tactics.
Robinson is seeking compensation to pay for her son’s burial and other costs.
She is also asking the court to direct the Knoxville Police Department to require additional training for new and existing officers.
“We need to get to the heart of what happened to Anthony,” she said in a statement. “We need to see some policy changes so that this never happens again, [so that] there’s never another mother sitting in my position.”
ABC News notes that Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen found the shooting justifiable under Tennessee’s self-defense law.
Video footage of the April 21, 2021, shooting, adds ABC News, shows that four officers responded to the school after the mother of Thompson’s former girlfriend made a domestic abuse call.
The officers went into the bathroom where they believed Thompson was, then confronted the teen.
Allen’s office says that Knoxville officers did not realize—nor did they have any reason to suspect—that the teenager could be carrying a firearm.
An officer, says ABC News, grabbed Thompson’s right arm while attempting to handcuff him. However, Thompson’s left hand remained in his sweatshirt pocket, clasping a handgun.
When the officers tried to proceed with the arrest, Thompson’s handgun went off, shooting a round into a nearby trash can but not striking any bystanders.
While no police officers were hit by the sudden gunfire, they believed their lives were in danger and opened fire.
Body-cam footage shows that Officer Jonathan Clabough removed his weapon and shot Thompson in the shoulder.
Thompson collapsed, but officers say they did not realize the teenager had been shot until they handcuffed him, turned him over, and saw large amounts of blood.
Once the Knoxville officers realized that Thompson was injured, they called the school nurse for medical assistance.
In her lawsuit, Thompson’s mother claims that her teenage son illegally carried a handgun to school—which he kept unsecured in his sweater pocket with the safety switched off—because his girlfriend’s mother had sent him “threatening text messages.”
The “threatening” messages, as reprinted by the press, suggest that Thompson’s girlfriend mother had simply informed him that she had called the police and wanted him to stop physically abusing her daughter.