A police officer fatally shot a man during a traffic stop in Nashville, Tennessee, early Saturday morning, April 24, 2021, after he charged the officer with two butcher knives, authorities said.
The shooting took place in the city’s Bordeaux neighborhood around midnight while Officer Christopher Royer was on routine patrol, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said in a press conference following the shooting.
Royer initiated the traffic stop after learning the license plate on a white Mercedes was registered to a green Chevrolet, Aaron said. While the driver remained cooperative throughout the traffic stop, the passenger immediately got out of the vehicle with two butcher knives.
Body-camera footage released by police on Saturday shows the armed man attempting to get inside the police officer’s vehicle. The driver can be heard screaming at the man, “What are you doing?” and “Stop!” as Royer urged the man to drop his weapon.
“I don’t want to shoot you,” the police officer is heard yelling on the video footage as he repeatedly requested backup.
Aaron said Royer backed 25 yards away from his police car as the armed passenger began running toward him. As the man approached, Royer appears in the video footage to fire three shots to the man’s chest before he collapsed in the middle of the street.
The man died after he was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Aaron said. Authorities have not released his name.
“What you don’t see on there is that, when he was down, there were five officers who rendered aid to this individual,” Police Chief John Drake said during the press conference.
While Royer likely had a stun gun available, Drake said the officer was facing a lethal situation and responded appropriately.
When asked what prompted Royer to check the white Mercedes’ license plate, Drake said that their department deals with “a number of vehicles stolen, usually around 3,000 a year. Officers run tags all the time to determine if vehicles are stolen or not.”
Royer, a four-year veteran of the police department, has been placed on an administrative assignment as the agency conducts an administrative review, Aaron said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and district attorney’s office are also investigating the fatal shooting.
An investigation into whether the white Mercedes had been reported as stolen is also ongoing, Drake added.