Nashville, Tennessee police officer Christopher Royer, a four year veteran, fatally shot a man who left the passenger side of a vehicle during a routine traffic stop, armed with two butcher’s knives, and proceeded to act erratically before ultimately charging the police officer while armed with the two blades.
The traffic stop was conducted after the officer ran the license plate numbers of a vehicle shortly before midnight last night, and discovered that the tags – placed on a late model Mercedes sedan – were registered to a much older green Chevrolet. Immediately after stopping the vehicle, a man exited from the passenger side of the sedan, armed with two knives, and began acting in a manner Police Chief John Drake described as “bizarre.”
After leaving the vehicle, the man began running in a circular pattern as the officer – and the driver of the vehicle pulled over – ordered him to put down the weapons and reenter the vehicle. The knife wielding man, who has yet to be identified by police, is then seen running toward Royer’s police vehicle and appears to briefly enter the police vehicle before exiting and running erratically. Royer repeatedly ordered him to stop and put the weapons down.
Ultimately, the man ran around the car again before charging Royer while armed with two butcher’s knives. The officer retreated, repeatedly ordered him to stop and drop the weapons, and ultimately discharged his weapon what appears to be three times, shooting the unidentified man in the chest. The man fell on the street, and later died at an area hospital. Multiple officers attempted to provide medical assistance at the scene before an ambulance could arrive.
Immediately before discharging his weapon, Royer said, “Dude what are you doing? I don’t want to shoot you, I don’t want to shoot you.” As the unidentified man charged him with the knives, he again ordered him to “Drop it” before firing his weapon. After he was incapacitated, Royer again asked, “Dude what are you doing, man? Come on, I didn’t want to do that.”
In a press conference held this morning, Drake explained that while Royer was almost certainly armed with a taser, in “lethal” situations like this, police officers are expected to respond with lethal force. “It’s a lethal situation. He deescalated by retreating, he moved backwards, again, ordering the individual to drop the weapon. In those situations, lethal, you can’t use less lethal when someone is coming at you with a knife.”
This latest shooting comes less than a week after a police involved shooting in Columbus, Ohio, in which a black teen charged at another black teen while armed with a knife during a front yard brawl. The officer, in an attempt to stop what appears to have been a fatal stabbing in progress, fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.