Police: Officer-involved shooting in parking lot was accidental; officer disciplined

JACKSON, Tenn. — After a Jackson police officer fired his gun in the parking lot of a busy north Jackson restaurant back in May, police have since acknowledged the shooting was an accident.

No one was injured in the May 23 incident that happened when police responded around noon to a report of a shoplifting suspect outside Wal-Mart on Emporium Drive.

Police say the responding officer, Dennis Ballentine, spotted the suspect in a vehicle in Cheddar’s parking lot. Shortly afterward, Ballentine reportedly fired one gunshot.

Officer Ballentine “appropriately drew his weapon upon observing furtive gestures by the suspect,” according to documents from the Jackson Police Department.

However, Ballentine “should not have attempted to strike the car window” based on the information he had at the time, which was an alleged misdemeanor theft and a fleeing suspect, the documents state.

Also, Ballentine’s radio traffic after the shooting “should have conveyed that the shooting was accidental,” according to the documents. It should be noted that WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News and the community can no longer hear the police department’s radio traffic due to their switch to encrypted radios earlier this year.

The document also says Balletine should not have used his gun as an impact weapon.

Officer Ballentine was disciplined with two days of unpaid suspension and eight hours of remedial firearms training, according to the documents.

He was also given employee counseling and training for not having his body camera activated and to more accurately broadcast radio traffic.

The shoplifting suspect fled the scene and was captured later that day in Crockett County.

Categories: Local News, News