Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong again defended the actions of his officers involved in Tuesday evening's deadly shooting of a north Memphis man in a convenience store parking lot.
In his neighborhood around Jackson Avenue he was known by his nickname of "Tom Tom," a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School who many described as being good-natured, smart, and well-liked.
Yet, Memphis Police paint an entirely different portrait of 28-year-old Amjustine Hunter as desperate man willing to use his car to run over two police officers before he was shot to death.
MORE: Police fatally shoot man after altercation
There were hundreds of eyes taking in the scene. People unerringly drawn to a bloody reality show taking place in the openness of a Jackson Avenue convenience store parking lot. A fatal confrontation between a man and two police officers.
But, as has happened far too often since the start of year, the actions onlookers allege they saw and the incident report submitted by Memphis Police are in sharp contrast.
"Police running across the street. They still shooting," said one eyewitness to the fatal police-involved shooting. "That's how he ended up right over here, right now. They shot him nine times."
"It's troubling to know that there are that many individuals that brazenly attack police officers, especially an officer that's clearly in uniform," Director Armstrong said.
For the fifth time this year, Director Armstrong fielded questions on the latest officer-involved deadly shooting graphically played out at the corner of the well-traveled intersection of Jackson Avenue and North Watkins on Tuesday night.
Witnesses allege just as Mr. Hunter emerged from a convenience store he was confronted by police. Director Armstrong related how what should have been a routine traffic violation suddenly exploded in gunfire from two officers.
"The tags on his vehicle were not properly registered to that particular vehicle that he was driving and they were approaching him to discuss that," the police director said. "On a prior day they attempted to pull him over and he eluded them for whatever reason. In his efforts to get away he struck two officers. I've seen the video and one of the officers was actually on the hood of the vehicle.
"I don't want to speculate as to was it his intention to intentionally run over the officer or intentionally injure the officer?," he added.
As cut and dry as Director Armstrong's depiction of the incident was, it comes at a time when the public's reaction to MPD officer-involved deadly shootings, especially in African American neighborhoods, has long since eclipsed skepticism and now borders on outrage as a hot summer approaches.
Director Armstrong noted the results of the department's investigation into Mr. hunter's shooting will be presented to the Shelby County District Attorney General's office. It should also be noted the D.A's office has not moved to indict or prosecute any of the other police officers involved in previous fatal shootings this year.
"I think it's become clear that now it's escalated to where people are committing acts against police officers and certainly in harm's way on a daily basis," Director Armstrong said. "But, they have to defend themselves. A vehicle can be used as a weapon just as well as a firearm or a bladed object."
Yet, there were all those eyes watching the death of a seemingly "unarmed" Mr. Hunter.
Or did their eyes simply deceive them?
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