Metro Police Shot Unhoused Man Following A Long Standoff

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On May 01, 2021, Karen Griffin dialed 911 to say that her young son Jacob Griffin was threatening to execute her and other people. In the call, she told a 911 dispatcher that Jacob Griffin was a schizophrenic person from the wooded spot behind a South Nashville Goodwill shop. Jacob Griffin was recently terminated from that store, her mother said, and he had been talking about visiting it and shooting individuals there for the last three to four months.


Jacob has a gun, said his mother. He texted her photographs of a filled magazine on the morning of that day. Therefore, she said that she would regard him as a dangerous man. That was the first sign of violence from Jacob, said Karen Griffin. She also told the dispatcher that she would not like the cops to kill Jacob or her son to kill others.


Some five hours afterwards, a SWAT official killed Jacob with a gunshot made in a bid to apprehend the youngster at his camping venue.


The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department released an incident briefing on the morning of May 02, 2021. It includes a body-camera recording of the standoff between Jacob and the cops for hours. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is looking into the matter. It is not the first time that the TBI is told to look at a shooting incident that comes under the MNPD jurisdiction. Jacob is among the few people who a Nashville cop shot and executed this year. The two other incidents happened earlier this year.


The MNPD’s spokesman Don Aaron said in the department’s briefing that cops made contact for the first time at around 03:30 pm that day. At that time, two MNPD South Precinct cops found Jacob at the venue behind that Goodwill store. Jacob told the cops that he would not surrender his gun, said Aaron. MNPD South Precinct’s Louis Pena used his electroshock weapon but to no avail. There is no footage of the incident where Pena used his taser in the department briefing.


It is worth noting that body cameras may be used throughout the department, but almost every South Precinct-based officer does not have those cams. Therefore, they did not record that initial interaction, said Aaron.


As per Aaron’s briefing, SWAT, as well as MNPD negotiators, were told to hit the scene at about 04:10 pm that day. Around an hour later, Mental Health Cooperative and Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team staff arrived there to sign emergency committal documents for Jacob. The officers were involved in an impasse situation with Jacob in that forested place.


In the MNPD body-camera recording, a cop tells Jacob to walk to a position without his pistol as a first step. Jacob then tells the officer to go away from his property and that he is a hypnotist.

Then, an officer says that they can only leave if they get Jacob safely to speak to a counseling professional waiting outside.


In the MNPD briefing, Aaron states that there was a change in approach to the negotiations when Jacob shot with his gun. In the MNPD body-camera recording, you can see officers continuing to negotiate with Jacob as what appears to be a gunshot comes, albeit not towards those officers.


Then, the officer with the MNPD body camera used to record the incident aims his weapon towards Jacob. Then, an increasingly frustrated Jacob starts to shout and swear at those officers, while warning them against pointing weapons at him. The officers discouraged Jacob from picking up his gun again before he tells them to leave his property.


One officer tells Jacob that they cannot leave up to the time they resolve the issue, whereas another says that he made the gunshot. The briefing footage shows Aaron describing the incident in the following way.


At around 07:30 pm, when daylight starts to wane, SWAT’s officers started a plan to apprehend Jacob with distraction devices, a team of K-9 officers, and Direct Impact® foam rounds. When attempting to effect Jacob’s arrest, he shot once again with his pistol. Then, SWAT’s veteran Matthew Grindstaff fired back.


The body cam recording shows officers quickly approaching Jacob as well as releasing their dog, pinning the agitated man down. One of the officers standing over Jacob told him that he would get the animal off him if he showed them his hands.


In the recording, multiple officers ask where the gun is. Then, it appears that a gunshot has gone off. The department claims that it came from Jacob’s pistol. Grindstaff shot Jacob seconds afterwards. After that, he was declared dead at VUMC (Vanderbilt University Medical Center).