Two Tuscaloosa Police officers are on administrative leave after they were part of a Wednesday afternoon shooting that left a man dead near Bowers Park, and chief Brent Blankley said he is confident in the decisions they made.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon three and a half hours after the fatal shooting, Captain Jack Kennedy, the commander of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, briefed local media on the incident.

Kennedy is an employee of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office, not the Tuscaloosa Police Department, and - flanked by Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley and Assistant Chief Sebo Sanders - he said no one affiliated with TPD will be involved in investigating this case.

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"The officers were conducting a narcotics investigation on some subjects," Kennedy said. "They ended up initiating a traffic stop for a traffic violation and during the investigation, there was an altercation between the officers and one of the suspects. Shots were fired and one individual at this time is deceased."

Police have not yet publicly identified the man who was killed, but said he was a Black male. The fatal exchange happened a few minutes after noon Wednesday.

Kennedy was sparse with details Wednesday afternoon but noted the shooting had only just occurred and a major investigation was underway.

"I'm not going to be able to give you any conclusions or facts until our initial investigation is complete," Kennedy said. "We're going to go where the case takes us and this case will be treated the same as any other case as Violent Crimes investigates. The reason I'm not making too many statements now is because I don't know the answer to them. We're going to interview witnesses, we'll be using technology, we'll be speaking with officers and collecting all of that together."

The VCU will then likely pass over its evidence to the District Attorney's office to determine if charges are necessary.

Chief Blankley said two officers were involved in the deadly shooting and they have been placed on administrative leave, which is TPD protocol.

"Based on the facts I have, I am confident our officers acted the way they needed to act to make sure they got home safely," Blankley said. "We're going be there for our officers and make sure they get any mental health treatment they need after going through a traumatic event."

Watch their full press conference below, and stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on this case as they become available.

This is the third fatal interaction Tuscaloosa Police Officers have had with individuals since Blankley was appointed chief in February 2020.

A man Tasered by TPD officers in August 2020 died about an hour later. Blankley said at the time that the suspect, 31-year-old Kendrell Watkins, told police he'd was on "MoJo," some kind of synthetic marijuana, shortly before he died. A Medical Examiner's autopsy report obtained by the Thread in 2021 said two analyses of urine taken from Watkins' body did not find any of 21 compounds generally present in synthetic cannabinoids, though the tests were positive for genuine marijuana and some methamphetamine.

The autopsy ruled Watkin's death was caused by "toxic effects of methamphetamine," and his Tasering was not a factor.

Tuscaloosa Police also shot Roderick Inge seven times in the woods behind Los Torascos on Skyland Boulevard in April 2021. Police initially said Inge fired on officers after he fled a traffic stop and they returned fire in response.

"After reviewing the evidence, I’m confident that our officers acted properly and followed procedures,” Blankley said after Inge's shooting. “Because of this, none of the officers or other members of the public were injured.”

The next month, though, Inge's father-figure challenged that narrative and called his death "a bad shoot." 

An autopsy obtained by the Thread found the only shot Inge fired was into his own chest, and ruled his death a suicide.

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