NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Williamson County District Attorney have cleared a Williamson County deputy involved in a shooting on Interstate 840 last month.
News 2 was right there Friday, August 14 on the side of the interstate when the injured suspect was brought out of the woods.
Deputies say 19-year-old Espoir Sibomana lead Rutherford County officers on a high-speed chase into Williamson County. Once in Williamson County, deputies chased the young man who was reportedly driving on the shoulder, running cars off the road and approaching speeds that at times topped 100 miles per hour.
After spike strips failed to stop the suspect’s car and he continued driving wildly onto I-65, deputies called off the chase. That’s when officials say Daniel Soto, one of the officers who deployed the spike strips on I-840, returned to get his equipment.
While getting his spike strips, he encountered the suspect again. This time, the Antioch man had reportedly caused a wreck and wrecked his own vehicle.
Deputy Soto is wearing body cam as he spends the next four to five minutes trying to convince the suspect, who is now standing on the side of the road to surrender his 9mm handgun.
Soto yells to the suspect to drop the gun and tells the young man he doesn’t have to do this.
Soto and fellow deputy Jacob Holmes drive along the breakdown lane behind the suspect, as he walks away from the officers.
The officers don’t immediately press the suspect, stopping at least three times to get out and plead with him to drop his handgun.
After 4 minutes, Sibomana turns toward the deputies and begins slowly walking toward them.
Soto can be heard yelling into his microphone, “Subject is armed and walking toward us with a gun, he is at gunpoint.”
Soto repositions his AR-15, hiding behind the driver’s side door, and yells to Sibomana who continues to walk toward the squad car.
“Buddy, don’t do this man! Don’t do it, man! Buddy, stop man. Stop buddy! Come on brother. Talk to me, brother. It’s not a big deal, I promise, it is not a big deal. Man, don’t do it, brother. BACK UP! Don’t do it, brother.”
Dashcam shows Sibomana slowly raise his weapon in his left hand and level toward the officers. That’s when you hear one shot from Soto’s AR-15.
Sibomana goes down. He is struck in the thigh. He falls to the ground, for only a moment. He collects himself and as he gets up, grabs his 9mm.
You can hear Soto shout, “Don’t touch it! Put it down! Put it down! Get on the ground. Get on the ground man. Drop the gun.”
That’s when Sibomana limps into the woods, gun in hand. The two deputies follow behind at a distance.
Sheriff Dusty Rhoades said his officers handled themselves well, constantly imploring the young man to surrender and not pressing the action until the suspect himself gave the officers no choice.
“Yeah, I mean, the deputy saw the man was armed. We want to deescalate and try to get him to comply to what we were asking him to do. And for some reason, he would not. On bodycam footage Officer Soto is backing up, backing up, backing up. And he was left with no recourse. Had this guy complied with what the deputy asked him to do, he would not have been shot.”
Sheriff Rhoades tells News 2 that Sibomana hid in the woods for 45 minutes. And even then, he was still clutching the weapon, pointing it at law officers when they tried to approach him.
The sheriff says Sibomana was arrested thanks to a brave K9 that subdued him.
Rhoades says his deputies showed tremendous restraint.
“When you see him raise the gun. I have to give hats off to my deputy. He waited to the last minute to pull the trigger. If you point a gun, especially at a law enforcement officer. Expect to get shot at.”
When asked how he would assess the way his officer’s handled themselves, Rhoades said this:
“Above and beyond what is required.”
Deputy Soto has been cleared in the shooting. The suspect is alive and well and in the Williamson County Jail under a $520,000 bond facing multiple felonies that include aggravated assault, evading arrest, and reckless endangerment.