NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Tennessee say they are asking a grand jury to bring charges because investigators believe bounty hunters shot two men in a wild incident last weekend in which one of the men was fatally wounded.
Clarksville Police spokesman Jim Knoll said authorities will ask a county grand jury on Monday to bring charges after the shooting last weekend in which he says neither man shot was the person whom bounty hunters were trying to serve with a warrant
Authorities have declined to divulge many details about the shooting before the case heads to the grand jury.
The man who died has been identified as 24-year-old Jalen Johnson, a father of three from Clarksville. His uncle said the victim was an innocent man gunned down in a case of mistaken identity.
"Absolutely, they were out of control," Johnson's uncle, Toni Jenkins, said of the bounty hunters. "The objective of a bounty hunter is to identify a suspect and serve them with a warrant and bring them to jail, but that's not what happened."
Knoll said the bounty hunters confronted four men in a car parked at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Clarksville just after midnight that Sunday. Shots were fired and bounty hunters then chased the men for nearly seven miles, according to Knoll. He added that no one in the car had any outstanding warrant.
The police spokesman wouldn't say how many bounty hunters were involved, when the shots were fired and what exactly transpired in the parking lot. It's not clear why the bounty hunters confronted the men in the vehicle in Clarksville, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Nashville near the state line with Kentucky.
Jenkins said the men in the car with his nephew Jalen Johnson had no idea who approached them in the parking lot, blocking their car.
"They just thought they were some gang or something," Jenkins said.
One of the bounty hunters smashed out a window in the car, the uncle said, adding they took off because they were afraid. He said Johnson was a passenger in the back seat. The uncle said the bounty hunters started shooting in the parking lot and continued to fire while they were chasing the Nissan with Johnson and his three friends in it.
"They were shooting and ramming the car and everything," Jenkins said.
Clarksville Police would not say whether there was a high-speed chase involving gunfire and a vehicle being rammed. But authorities said they are very troubled by what happened and the risk to the men in the vehicle and to the public. They said they are asking questions about who regulates bounty hunters.
"Any time you start firing off bullets and chasing people you're putting the public in danger, no matter who it is," Knoll said.