Sullivan County

Officers cleared in deadly shooting investigation

Officers cleared

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Six months after five Kingsport Police officers shot a Church Hill man more than a dozen times, the Sullivan County Grand Jury has ruled they used appropriate force.

"We're glad to have closure for everyone involved, especially the officers," said Capt. Jason Bellamy.

District Attorney Barry Staubus said the officers shot 47-year-old Ernest Lynn France in May after a domestic violence call in Mount Carmel. France's wife told officers he pointed a gun at her and shot a car next door four times. "There was information that Mr. France had fired a weapon, threatened someone else and was intoxicated. He was considered to be a threat to the community and dangerous," Staubus said.

France's wife said he was off of his anxiety medication and had been drinking. "She confirmed he had a weapon, that he was unstable, and she was concerned for his safety and the safety of the community," he added. According to the autopsy results, France had a blood alcohol content of 0.06 when he died.

Officers found France and pulled him over for a traffic stop in Kingsport. "Mr. France pointed a loaded gun at an officer, that officer responded and other officers around responded," said Staubus.

According to the autopsy, France was shot 13 times. "What they did that night was based on their training and experience. And the events that evening were controlled by Mr. France," said Bellamy.

The Grand Jury agree, ruling on Tuesday that under the circumstances, officers used appropriate force. "It's nothing we take lightly. This is probably the biggest event most of these guys will face in their career," Bellamy said.

Officers were placed on temporary administrative leave after the shooting. Their names are not being released, but we're told they are all back to work at the Kingsport Police Department.

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