A man who was shot by police in Tuscaloosa last spring committed suicide before they opened fire, according to an autopsy report released 20 months after his death.

The Thread has previously reported extensively on the death of Roderick Inge, who was shot in the woods behind the Los Tarascos Mexican restaurant on Skyland Boulevard on the night of April 15th, 2021.

Initial Statements

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Tuscaloosa homicide investigators said Inge had fired a shot at a car occupied by his two young children and their mother during an argument, fled from a traffic stop after police spotted him later on Skyland Boulevard then fired a shot as officers closed in on him on foot.

The TPD officers returned fire and Inge was struck multiple times. He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive his injuries.

TPD Chief Brent Blankley and Walt Maddox issued a joint statement shortly after the shooting, saying they believed the officers had "acted appropriately in a very dangerous situation."

"Mr. Inge had just shot at his children, aged 3 and 5, and their mother while they were inside their vehicle," Blankley said at the time. "He endangered the safety of the public and ultimately forced officers into a dangerous situation."

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Family Calls It A "Bad Shoot"

More than a month later, though, Inge's father-figure Joe Green challenged the police narrative of his death. Although he was not his biological father, Green said he raised Inge from boyhood and called his death the result of "a bad shoot" from the Tuscaloosa Police officers.

Green told the Thread back in May 2021 that Inge fired a shot at the ground during the argument with the mother of his children, and that a bullet fragment bounced upward and struck the radiator of the vehicle his children were inside. Green called the act inexcusable but also noted it was a far cry from Blankley's description of the inciting incident.

Green said last year that police told him Inge's death was self-inflicted, but no elected official or law enforcement officer ever publicly amended their initial narrative -- that Inge opened fire on TPD officers who had no choice but to return fire.

"Having seen that one body cam and a snippet of a dash cam video, it still led me, made me even more vigilant and made me even more certain that what happened that night was foul," Green told the Thread last year. "It was foul play 100 percent."

Autopsy Released

The autopsy was performed by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences on April 19th, 2021, less than a week after Inge died. The Thread immediately requested a copy of their report but was told last May that the records had been sealed per order from Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb.

The ADFS autopsy report was finally released to the Thread last Friday, more than 600 days after the incident that claimed Inge's life.

One .380 Wound

According to the ADFS report, eight bullets were removed from Inge's body including one that was fired from his own .380 caliber handgun and seven that were fired by the 9mm Glocks carried by TPD officers.

The .380 gunshot wound appeared to be self-inflicted, according to the autopsy report.

"There is a tight contact gunshot wound in the anterior chest 20 inches from the top of the head and an inch to the left of the midline," they wrote. "The wound is surrounded by soot. There is soot on the inner aspect of the skin. The projectile extends downward and slightly to the left. It is seen to perforate the aorta and the left lung."

The contact wounds and soot all indicate the .380 was pressed to Inge's chest when the shot was fired.

Seven 9mm Wounds

Two Tuscaloosa Police Officers fired on Inge with their Glocks -- one officer fired either five or six times, depending on how their weapon was loaded, and missed every shot, according to the autopsy report.

The second officer fired either eight or nine times, and the ADFS said every one of the seven TPD bullets that struck Inge was fired from the second officer's service weapon.

"There are multiple entries and exits of the left arm, back, buttocks, and left leg (there is no evidence of soot and stippling of any of these wounds.)," the autopsy found. "The projectiles involved (seven are recovered from the right chest and pelvis) are seen to enter the abdominal cavity, perforating the liver and loops of small intestine. In addition, there is an entrance in the left chest as evidenced by an entry on the left arm extending through the arm and into the chest cavity which is seen to perforate the left lung."

Manner of Death: Suicide

Ultimately, the ADFS ruled that Inge was killed by the self-inflicted gunshot wound and called his death a suicide.

Stephen Dethrage
Stephen Dethrage

No Charges for Officers Involved

On Monday, Captain Jack Kennedy of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit gave the Thread his first new statements on Inge's death since the initial press conference and releases issued in April 2021. In it, he confirms that a grand jury declined to indict either of the TPD officers involved in the shooting, and a department spokeswoman confirmed they are back to work after being placed on administrative leave in the aftermath of the shooting.

"On April 15, 2021 the Violent Crimes Unit was called to investigate an officer-involved shooting during which an individual died, in the area of 230 Skyland Blvd Tuscaloosa. The investigation was conducted by investigators and supervisors not affiliated with the Tuscaloosa Police Department," Kennedy said. "This case was presented to a grand jury for review in July of 2022. All evidence concerning this case, including witness statements, video surveillance, dash and body camera footage, autopsy reports, and ballistics analysis of all firearms was provided to the grand jury. The grand jury returned a 'No Bill,' or did not recommend any criminal charges for any persons involved."

Kennedy rehashed the details leading up to the shooting before sharing, for the first time, the VCU's final narrative of what investigators believed happened in the woods that night.

"Inge stopped his vehicle and fled on foot and officers pursued the suspect on foot. This entire encounter was captured on police body and dash cameras. At one point Inge can clearly be seen on video running with what appears to be a pistol in his hand," Kennedy wrote. "Inge fled into a wooded area, and multiple officers began searching for him. It was dark, and they were using flashlights. Inge was located lying on the ground, and officers began giving Inge commands. Officers then saw a muzzle flash and then heard a gunshot from Inge. Two officers then fired, and Inge was struck multiple times. Officers then approached, located the handgun that was in Inge’s possession lying next to him, attempted lifesaving measures, and had Inge transported to the hospital where he was later declared deceased."

"It was discovered during autopsy, that although officers did strike Inge with gunfire, the injury that caused Inge’s immediate death was caused by a contact gunshot wound to his chest. The bullet from the chest injury was recovered, and is of a different caliber and type than those used by police. The same caliber and type of ammunition that caused Inge’s death was found loaded in the magazine of Inge’s pistol, and Inge’s pistol contained a spent shell casing of this ammunition. The specific projectile that caused Inge’s death was later matched ballistically by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences directly to Inge’s pistol. A projectile or bullet of the same caliber and type was also later recovered from inside his children’s mother vehicle from the earlier altercation."

Kennedy said again that the ADFS autopsy concurred with the investigative theory that Inge committed suicide and reiterated that a grand jury who was given all available evidence opted not to prosecute the TPD officers involved.

Kennedy also said that the evidence in this case, including body and dash camera footage, were made available to Inge's family for review but will not be publicly released by the VCU.

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