A Morristown man, who allegedly tried to suffocate his wife with a plastic bag in March, used a knife to take her life Friday night outside their Chestnut Avenue apartment, and was shot dead by Morristown police officers as he reportedly raised a handgun in their direction, authorities say.
Wendy Lee Pope, 40, apparently died from stabbing or slashing wounds to her neck. Police found her lifeless body in a vehicle outside the apartments, which are located just east of North Liberty Hill Road, after officers were dispatched to investigate a knife attack around 11:30 p.m.
Morristown Police Department Deputy Chief Michelle Jones said Saturday evening there was a witness to the fatal knifing.
The MPD believes the victim was murdered inside the car.
When police officers encountered her husband, 49-year-old Ronald Pope, he was armed with a handgun, and refused officers’ orders to disarm. As Pope elevated the handgun, four police officers reacted simultaneously and opened fire, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Pope was hit by multiple rounds, and was pronounced dead at the scene. No police officer was injured. Neither the MPD nor the TBI is releasing the names of the officers involved in the fatal shooting.
TBI Agent Chris Wilhoit is leading the officer-involved shooting inquiry. District Attorney Dan Armstrong said Saturday afternoon that he had not gotten a preliminary briefing. Armstrong says that after Wilhoit’s investigation is complete, he has the option of presenting the findings to a grand jury or concluding it was a justified shooting.
The four police officers who fired at Pope will be placed on paid administrative leave. Counseling services will be made available to them.
The officers will have to requalify with their firearms before returning to patrol duties to ensure they have no “psychological problems which might make him or her hesitant when faced with the demand of drawing and firing a weapon in the future,” the MPD’s use-of-force guidelines.
In March, the Popes were arguing over income-tax money when he struck her in the face and knocked her to the floor. After placing a plastic bag over her head, he “grabbed her throat and asphyxiated her until she began blacking out,” a police report states.
She ultimately escaped and fled in a car and was interviewed the next day at a Newport hospital, according to the police report.
Funeral arrangements for the Popes had not been announced by Saturday night.