Suspect killed in officer-involved shooting in Homewood identified

Suspect killed in officer-involved shooting in Homewood identified

HOMEWOOD, AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Coroner's Office has released the identity of a man who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting in Homewood.

John Robert Payne, 35, of Birmingham died early Thursday morning.

A Homewood police officer was shot in the upper thigh  in the parking lot of a business just off Lakeshore Parkway. The officer has been released from Grandview Medical Center.

Officers were patrolling the area when they encountered three people around two cars. Police recently ramped up patrols in the area due to car break-ins.

"Officers observed a vehicle out here with the trunk open. The suspect fled. A chase ensued. The suspect then turned around and fired at our officers striking one officer in the leg. The suspect was then shot by two officers and is deceased right now," said Lt. Keith Peterson, Homewood Police.

The suspect fired multiple rounds. Officers also used tasers on the suspect to no effect.

The other two people were taken into custody for questioning but were later released.

According to a spokesperson with the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation, they are not being charged at this time.

S.B.I. is also investigating the shooting.

"We do the job every day, and it's no different to us. Certainly, it's a little personal but, we still have a job to do and we want to do it as professionally as possible," said Lt. Jon Riley, State Bureau of Investigation. "The investigation will be looked at from the time the officers made contact through the time of the shooting."

However, according to one former district attorney based on the facts that have come out so far, it appears the officers were completely justified in the use of deadly force.

"This particular case, if you have a police officer being shot at and actually shot, I don't know how it could be more reasonable than that," said Bill Veitch.

However, sometimes cases are not so obvious. Veitch said it's important that DA's look at the total situation before deciding.

"What time of day or night it was.  Whether the person was armed, that the police was chasing. Why were the police involved to begin with?  If it was a close call, I would be looking at both the background of the police officer and the person that was injured," he said.

This is the third officer-involved shooting for Homewood in the past 15 months.

In July of 2016, police killed a woman after she pointed a gun at them.  That shooting has been ruled justifiable.

In August of this year, an officer shot and killed a man after he reportedly got the officer's taser and used it against him.  The State Bureau of Investigation has not issued a report in that case.

However, a Homewood police spokesperson told WBRC, "Our own internal investigation has revealed that our officer did not violate any HPD policy, procedure, or state law."

We also asked Homewood PD for a look at their policy on when it is appropriate to use deadly force.

They referred us to section 13A-3-23 of the Alabama Code which addresses the use of force.

Homewood Police Chief Tim Ross called it an "unfortunate incident" at a news conference Friday.

"I would like to remind you that one of my officers was shot and taken to the hospital for a serious injury," Ross read from a prepared statement.

He went on to say the incident involved two patrol officers who had to defend themselves while trying to apprehend a fleeing suspect.

"Our experience has shown us that when people decline to follow simple instructions given to them by police officers that the risk of injury to our officers and the people that they are dealing with greatly increases," said Ross.

In August, a Homewood officer shot and killed a man in an incident involving a taser.

ALEA is investigating both incidents.

Chief Ross said he believes that the investigations into both shootings will show both suspects declined to follow instructions that were lawfully given by officers, and instead fled officers and subsequently assaulted them rather than face criminal charges.

Chief Ross also said he will respect the findings of the ALEA investigation and will abide by any recommendations they make to the district attorney.

"We sincerely appreciate the support and prayers that have been given to him and I would ask you that you continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers as well as the family of the deceased," he said.

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