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BLOUNTVILLE — Three local police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a man who attempted to flee a Bluff City traffic crash in August — allegedly striking an officer with his car and ramming multiple vehicles.
During Tuesday's meeting of a Sullivan County grand jury, District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus presented the findings of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident. Staubus says that based on the evidence, no action was taken by the grand jury, which determined the officers' responses were justified in the Aug. 18 shooting.
Rodger David Street, 58, of 814 Dry Branch Road, Bluff City, was shot four times during the altercation on Egypt Road. Staubus says two of the officers who fired on Street were Sullivan County deputies, while the third was a Bluff City police officer. Ballistics tests were reportedly unable to determine whose weapon fired the fatal shot.
According to previous statements from Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson, at approximately 6:30 p.m. police were called to the 1000 block, where Street's Oldsmobile had rear-ended an SUV.
Street reportedly ignored police commands and refused to exit his vehicle, then revved the engine of his car and attempted to drive away, ramming an SCSO patrol car.
Anderson said Street's Oldsmobile knocked one deputy to the ground, pinning him between two vehicles. A patrol car and volunteer firefighter's pickup were also reportedly rammed by Street's car. That's when police opened fire.
"They believed under the circumstances that the officer was hurt and maybe dead," Staubus told the Times-News. "And there were other people in the vicinity of the scene at danger."
Staubus says toxicology reports on Street's body revealed his blood alcohol level at the time of death was .28 — more than three times over state DUI laws for driving impaired.
"I think he not only intended to hit the vehicles, I think he meant to run over the officers or anybody who got in his way," said Anderson at an August press conference on the shooting.
SCSO personnel declined to speculate on why Street rammed officers and attempted to flee. They have noted that Street had previous arrests for driving on a revoked license in Sullivan County, along with past charges of grand larceny and assault on an officer in Portsmouth, Va.
"When someone tries to run over and kill a police officer, they'll do that to anybody," Anderson said.