MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — The family of a Nashville man shot and killed by a Mt. Juliet police officer nearly a year ago is now filing a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the department.
Last November, 39-year-old Eric Allen reportedly drove away from a traffic stop with a Mt. Juliet police officer trapped inside the car.
Lawyers for Eric’s family said in a press conference on Monday, Oct. 30 that the officer should never have gotten in the car in the first place.
“It’s hard to believe that a person would go from a minor traffic accident to having three bullets penetrating his body,” said Terry Clayton, one of the Allen family’s attorneys.
The deadly incident on Nov. 2, 2022, started with a traffic stop on South Mt. Juliet Road near Central Pike. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said Eric was sitting in the passenger seat when the female driver was pulled over by two Mt. Juliet officers and asked to get out of the vehicle.
Moments later, Eric was also asked to step out, but police body camera video shows Allen sliding into the driver’s seat and starting to drive away. However, Sgt. Josh Lo managed to get in the car and repeatedly asked Eric to stop while using his stun gun on him.
“Officer Lo tased him first,” S. Todd Yeary, another lawyer for the Allen family, said. “Hands on the steering wheel, above the steering wheel, how is he going to put the car in park?”
According to Yeary, the officer then shot Allen in the back: “Not shooting once, not shooting twice, but at least three times.”
“He didn’t have to be killed,” Andrew Allen, Eric’s brother, said.
During a press conference, Eric’s family members wiped away their tears as they announced their federal lawsuit against the Mt. Juliet Police Department.
“We are looking at more and more police violence against African American men,” Clayton said.
Attorneys said this lawsuit is a momentous step in their quest for justice as they work to uncover the truth behind the officer-involved shooting, make sure those responsible for Eric’s death are held accountable, and prevent such tragedies from happening again.
“We have to hold the police officers in Mt. Juliet, Nashville, and every part of this country responsible for killing young men without any justifiable cause.,” Clayton said.
Authorities said Lo’s actions were deemed justified by a Wilson County Grand Jury. In addition, he returned to work last year following a preliminary review of the incident.
The Wilson County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) released a statement saying that they stand firmly behind Sgt. Lo and the Mt. Juliet Police Department.
While we understand the interest surrounding the pending civil suits, we regret to inform you that we are unable to comment on ongoing litigation. However, it is essential to note that both a TBI Investigation and an Internal Investigation have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Sgt. Lo.
Furthermore, the District Attorney Office presented the case to a Grand Jury consisting of 12 impartial citizens, who returned a verdict of “No Charges / No True Bill” on Sgt. Lo. This outcome further supports our belief in Sgt. Lo’s integrity and reaffirms our unwavering support for both Sgt. Lo and the Mount Juliet Police Department.Lt. Jeff Johnson, President, Sam Houston Lodge 71
When News 2 reached out to the Mt. Juliet Police Department ahead of Monday’s press conference about the lawsuit, officials replied with statement issued in the past, saying it reflected their current thoughts:
The men and women of the Mt. Juliet Police Department dedicate themselves to the department’s core values of compassion, commitment, courage, competence, and integrity. As police officers, we swore an oath to uphold those values, support the Constitution, and honor the sanctity of human life. Sgt. Lo took that same oath. While much of the TBI investigative findings are not public at this moment, Sgt. Lo returned to duty after a preliminary review of the incident, which his actions are clear in the entirety of the released bodyworn camera video.Mt. Juliet Police Department