Hamblen County grand jury: Officers were  justified in fatal shooting

Four Morristown Police Department officers who shot and killed Ronald Pope outside the Chestnut Avenue Apartments on July 31 were justified in taking the man’s life, a Hamblen County grand jury concluded on Monday.

The officers committed a “justifiable act to protect the citizens and provide safety,” a grand jury finding states.

The only person to testify about the shooting Monday was Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Brian Fraley, and the only exhibit introduced was body-cam video of the fatal encounter.

Prior to the fatal officer-involved shooting, Pope, 49, used a knife to kill his wife, 40-year-old Wendy Pope. When officers arrived, the man was armed with a handgun and refused officers’ orders to disarm. He was shot dead as he lifted the firearm in the direction of the officers, according to the TBI.

In another high-profile case, the grand jury indicted Hamblen County Jail inmates Marty Harvey, 41; Michael Harvey, 37; Brandon Lawson, 22; Harley Humphrey, 39; and Ryan Graham, 27, in connection with the July 2018 beat-down of inmate David Brock. Brock, a self-described informant, is suing county government, alleging his attack was predictable and forewarned.

The former inmate sustained injuries to his head, face and body, internal injuries to his abdomen that caused bleeding and hemorrhagic shock and a lacerated spleen that required surgery and removal. Brock’s hospital bills exceed $95,000, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Morristown attorney Troy L. Bowlin II.

Deputy Josh Marsee, a field-training officer, testified about the alleged felony assault. The sheriff’s department is now in the tenuous position of trying to prove Brock was badly beaten in state criminal court and asserting county government is not responsible for Brock’s injuries in civil federal court.

Also Monday, the grand jury indicted Kerson Esa for aggravated statutory rape. Esa was 27 years old in February when he allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old girl, according to the indictment.

The others indicted Monday and their charges are:

Matthew Dakota Jones, 27, felony possession of meth and oxymorphone.

Crystal Lynn Seal, 42, felony possession of hydrocodone and Suboxone, simple possession of marijuana, criminal impersonation and criminal simulation.

Blake Ray Jones, 27, felony possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a revoked license.

Joshua Ryan Patton, 29, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, aggravated domestic assault, vandalism, evading arrest, resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Jonathan W. Mullins, 32, introducing contraband into a penal institution.

Amber Lynn Fleming, 44, possession of contraband in a penal institution.

Sondra Nicole Kenley, 32, theft over $10,000.

Cody Demarcus Jackson, 28, aggravated burglary, auto burglary, identity theft and two counts theft under $1,000.

Anthony Kirk Smith, 50, aggravated burglary and two counts theft under $1,000.

Michael A. Cunningham, 32, felony possession of marijuana, simple possession of Suboxone and possession of drug paraphernalia.

William S. Barnard, 39, neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Justin Lynn Dalton, 34, burglary, theft over $2,500 and driving on a suspended license.

Christopher David Moore, 42, theft over $2,500.

Brian Scott Lamb, 36, theft over $2,500.

Billy Lee Gallimore, 25, felony evading arrest.

Hector Jordan Izizarry Ramirez, 40, tampering with evidence, misdemeanor illegal possession of a firearm, resisting arrest and evading arrest.

Caleb Alexander West, 19, DUI, vehicular assault, possession of a handgun while under the influence, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, felony possession of marijuana, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, evading arrest, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Winfred Bullington, 70, reckless endangerment.

Fred Curtis French, 28, DUI, possession of a handgun while under the influence, simple possession of alprazolam and marijuana.

Nicholas P. Lawson, 37, second offense DUI and failure to exercise due care.