NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WRKN) — Documents from an internal investigation released to News 2 by a family attorney detail what officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department did and did not do before a woman was killed in a 2021 domestic violence incident.
“The facts of the case support FTO Jason Hees failed to follow through on numerous parts of his investigation with Ms. Carter,” the report said.
According to police, Michaela Carter died at the hospital days after her ex-husband, James Leggett, shot her minutes after police left her home.
The internal investigation found Carter had an order of protection against Leggett that officers were aware of the day Carter was shot.
Attorney David King explained that a judge needs to believe there is a reasonable threat against someone to issue an order of protection.
“You have to go before a judge and you have to swear your life is in danger or at a risk of harm,” King explained.
According to a court transcript provided by the family attorney, at the hearing for the order Carter was told that if Leggett tried to contact her she should, “call the police and let them know that he’s violated this order.”
She did just that the day she was shot.
Leggett allegedly violated the order of protection by messaging Carter and was also seen around Carter’s cousin’s house with a gun.
According to the investigation, officers didn’t take those text messages as evidence because, “he did not feel it was appropriate to document a whole conversation or take pictures of text messages.”
In interviews with the investigators, officer Jason Hees was also asked about not completing a lethality assessment report. He said he was not aware that report pertained to orders of protection.
“Hees was asked if the things he learned while talking to Ms. Carter, in addition to the
messages she was receiving that morning, reached a certain level of risk of violence
by Mr. Leggett. Hees responded with ‘possibly,'” according to the report.
According to the investigation documents, lethality assessment reports are part of MNPD’s strategy to prevent domestic violence homicides and serious injuries.
The investigation also found that the officer did not offer Carter counseling, programs, or shelter, according to policy.
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In it’s conclusion, the report said that it isn’t clear if these “missed investigative steps” would have led to a different outcome.
Metro police did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Officer Hees was given a two-day suspension.