‘A Bad Shoot': Father Challenges Narrative After Deadly Police Shooting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
39 days after an interaction with Tuscaloosa Police officers turned deadly, there are more questions than answers concerning how and why 29-year-old Roderick Inge died in the woods behind the Los Tarascos Mexican restaurant on Skyland Boulevard on the night of April 15th.
The day after Inge's death, officials released a narrative suggesting Inge was a threat to his family and the public, and his own uncooperative actions led to his untimely death.
The only member of the public who has been allowed to view portions of the evidence in the case – Inge’s father – says otherwise.
Until more evidence is released publicly or the investigation into the shooting ends and its findings are presented to a secret grand jury, questions regarding that night and whether Inge's fatal wound was self-inflicted will remain unanswered.
The following is a combination of official statements, responses to public record requests and the account of a father seeking justice for his son.
The day after Inge died, Jack Kennedy, commander of the multi-agency Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, held a brief press conference to share details of the fatal incident.
"This investigation is in its initial stages and is active and ongoing at this time, and I'm not going to be able to make a great deal of comments as in any other investigation until all evidence has been gathered, no conclusions will be made," Kennedy said, "What we do know is that last night, that would have been April 15th, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the Tuscaloosa Police Department was called by a victim who reported an incident of domestic violence. This victim had two children with the suspect. They engaged in a domestic argument or altercation during which the suspect fired a round into her vehicle while it was occupied by her self and her two small children. She left the area and drove to a second location and contact the police, who responded to meet with her. While they were speaking with her and taking an initial report, the suspect was observed driving nearby. Officers attempted a traffic stop on the suspect to make contact with him, but as they attempted to make direct physical contact to speak with him, he fled in the vehicle and a short vehicle pursuit resulted. The suspect then drove the vehicle, his vehicle into a parking lot where he stopped then fled on foot. Multiple officers pursued him into a wooded area. The suspect was located after some time in this wooded area and as officers were approaching and giving commands, the suspect produced a firearm and a shot was fired and shots were fired also by the Tuscaloosa Police officers. The subject was immediately transported to the hospital for treatment, but he did not survive the injuries. At that time the Violent Crimes Unit was contacted and responded to assume the investigation into that. As I mentioned previously, as this incident occurred with members of the Tuscaloosa Police Department, no personnel involved in this investigation is affiliated with or employed by the Tuscaloosa Police Department."
Shortly after the press conference, chief of police Brent Blankley and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox issued a joint statement defending the actions of the TPD officers involved.
“After reviewing the evidence, I’m confident that our officers acted properly and followed procedures,” Chief Brent Blankley said. “Because of this, none of the officers or other members of the public were injured.”
Mr. Inge had just shot at his children, aged 3 and 5, and their mother while they were inside their vehicle. He endangered the safety of the public and ultimately forced officers into a dangerous situation.
The Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit and the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office have taken over the investigation, and will make any decisions regarding the release of body camera footage or further details.
Two officers on are paid administrative leave, as per city policy.
Members of the Tuscaloosa VCU who do not work for TPD are conducting the investigation.
“After meeting this morning with Chief Blankley and the District Attorney to review the details from last night, from what I viewed, our officers acted appropriately in a very dangerous situation,” Mayor Walt Maddox said.
To date, no body camera footage, dash camera footage or surveillance camera footage from businesses in the area have been publicly released.
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has also declined to release its preliminary autopsy report, which would detail how many times Inge was shot and by what weapons.
"Reports, in this case, are not currently public record because the case remains under investigation either per order from the District Attorney or due to the fact that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has not yet completed its investigation," an ADFS spokesperson said in response to a request for the release of the autopsy report.
One civilian has seen some of the body camera footage captured that night, though – Joe Green, who had raised Inge since he was four years old, said in an exclusive interview with The Tuscaloosa Thread that he has met twice with investigators in the aftermath of his son's death. First on April 20th and again on April 29th, Green met with Captain Kennedy and VCU Investigator Jason Mellown to discuss the incident and watch portions of videos to better understand what happened.
Green told the Thread that after reviewing the evidence he was allowed to see and talking to investigators, he believes the public account given to the media on April 16th was incomplete and inaccurate at best, or deliberately dishonest at worst.
"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 said. "It was foul play 100 percent."
Green gave the Thread a chronological account of what he understands happened the night Inge died. He said he gathered details from conversations with Inge's mother, a Moundville resident with whom Inge spent the day of April 15th, interviews with Kennedy and Mellown, and from the body camera footage and dash camera footage he has been allowed to see.
WHERE IT BEGAN
Green said his son, Roderick Inge, broke up with the mother of his two children around two years ago but the two maintained an amicable relationship and that Inge went above and beyond to make sure he could stay in the lives of his children.
Inge voluntarily enrolled in a child support payment plan after the couple parted ways and petitioned a court for joint custody of the children in September 2019. A judge granted his request in March 2020.
On the day of the incident, Green said the two children were meant to be with their mother, but she reportedly asked Inge to watch them for a bit while she got her nails done. He agreed and kept the children at their mother's house for an hour or so before she called again and asked Inge to keep them a while longer so she could catch up with a friend at Los Tarascos and have a few drinks.
Green said Inge agreed but said he was going to take the kids to his mother's house in Moundville because he didn't feel comfortable staying at his ex's home for such a long period of time.
Eventually, the mother of Inge's children used FaceTime to contact him and say she was coming to pick up the kids in Moundville, according to Green, but Inge insisted they meet up somewhere closer to Los Tarascos.
"He said, 'No, I can see you and I’m hearing the way you’re talking and I see that you’ve been drinking quite a bit,'" Green said. "He said, 'I don’t want you to have my kids in the car driving all the way from Moundville back to Tuscaloosa.' He said, 'I’ll meet you at Winn Dixie and you can get the kids there, and that way you’ve only got just about a mile or so to drive home.'"
The two met in the parking lot of the Winn Dixie on Highway 69 near Shelton State Community College to exchange the children.
That's where the trouble began.
Green said he isn't sure how Inge and the mother of his children began to argue or how it escalated, but at some point, Inge drew a handgun and fired a single round. Contrary to the official account, though, Green said Inge fired at the ground of the Winn Dixie parking lot, and not into the vehicle where his 3- and 5-year-old children sat.
Green said Inge told his mother later that day that his ex was furious about something and was beating on the side of his truck. He said he told her to stop, then fired a shot away from her and into the ground when she refused.
Green said the bullet, or a bullet fragment, ricocheted off the asphalt and hit the bottom of the radiator on the passenger side of the woman's car. He said there were no bullet holes in the vehicle, no windows shattered by gunfire, just damage to the radiator – vastly different than Chief Blankley's statement that Inge "had just shot at his children, aged 3 and 5, and their mother while they were inside their vehicle."
"It should have never happened," Green said. "That should have never happened, I don’t give a damn how mad he was, that should have never happened, but he wasn’t trying to shoot her and he wasn’t trying to shoot his kids or the car or anything like that."
This is Green's first problem with what has been said publicly about his son's death – official statements about Inge's dispute with the mother of his children lack context and paint him as a "deranged maniac," he said.
"All this happened at Winn Dixie on 69, which is about five miles away from where Rod was killed, and it happened about 45 minutes to an hour earlier in the night," Green said. "Whenever Kennedy goes on TV, he goes on TV and makes it sound as if my son came up wearing a black hat, spraying weapons at a car full of people and kids, jumped out shooting at the police and the police had to chase him down and shoot him, which absolutely did not happen."
Green said he has asked Winn Dixie for surveillance footage of the day in question, but was told the store had given their tapes to police as part of the investigation. He said during their April 29th meeting, he asked Kennedy and Mellown to play the Winn Dixie footage for him.
"I said I want to see what took place at Winn Dixie that started it. I want to see what happened here," Green said. "I need peace of mind. I’ve watched my son die on camera, you know, eight times today. I need to see what sparked this."
The two investigators reportedly told Green that there was no good footage of the altercation at Winn Dixie, that it took place in a part of the parking lot where cameras couldn't capture what happened.
"SHOW ME YOUR HANDS"
After the altercation at Winn Dixie, Inge's ex drove away with their children but was having car trouble – her radiator was leaking fluid from where Inge's bullet had struck it. She reportedly drove back to Los Tarascos, where Green said she called the police to report what had transpired.
He said the woman wasn’t calling the police because she was scared for her life or the lives of her children; she needed a police report to expedite the process of her radiator repair.
TPD officers responded and met the woman at the restaurant. They were taking her statement when someone spotted Inge driving down Skyland Boulevard, and one of the officers immediately left Los Tarascos and pulled him over. Green said he was shown dash camera footage of his son pulling over near the O'Reilly Auto Parts store on Skyland Boulevard.
Green gave the following account of that stop:
"At O’Reilly’s, the police stopped about one car-length behind him, got out and went over to the car and said, 'Show me your hands!'
So he let the window down, he stuck his hands out the window and he said, 'Officer, can you please tell me what I’m being stopped for?'
He said, 'Shut up! Show me your hands, show me your hands!'
So my son said, 'Sir, can you please tell me what this is about, can you tell me what I’m being stopped for?'
The officer said, 'Put your hands on the steering wheel!'
So he put his hands on the steering wheel, he’s sitting there with his hands on the steering wheel, then the officer gives him another command, again, 'Show me your hands!'
So this time, he’s got almost his entire upper torso out the window, the officer is approaching from the driver’s side rear window and he’s there and [the officer] pulls out his weapon.
He says, 'Get out of the car!'
And [Roderick] said, 'No, sir. I’m not getting out of the car until you tell me what’s going on and tell me why I’m being pulled over. Can you please explain to me why I’m being stopped?'
The officer didn’t tell him, 'OK, you’re stopped because you’re under arrest,' or, 'You’re stopped because I’m getting ready to hold you for questioning,' or, 'You’re stopped because you’re a suspect in some sort of altercation that happened at Winn Dixie,' none of that.
Green said he, Captain Kennedy and Investigator Mellown spoke at length about this exchange. He believes the entire incident could have been resolved without violence and Inge would still be alive if he had just been taken into custody during the traffic stop.
"Mr. Kennedy asked me, he said, 'Mr. Green, do you think any of the events in the news or in the media could have had him afraid?' and I said, 'You’re damn right they had him afraid, he’s a young Black man in the South that’s being pulled over by the police and a cop has a gun on him and he’s sitting there with his hands out the window and the police ain’t put no cuffs on him, he ain’t questioning him, he’s just yelling three different commands – keep your hands on the steering wheel, put your hands out the window and get out of the car.'"
Green said he and Inge had spoken many times in the past about exactly this type of situation and the danger it could present.
"I told him a long time ago, I said, 'Roderick, if the police gives you conflicting commands, most of the time somebody is getting ready to get shot,'" Green said. "I told him to sit there so they can see your hands and don’t move. Wait until someone else comes that can tell the story in case you do get shot. I’ve been giving him 'the talk' ever since he’s been old enough to understand it."
Green said he believes Inge panicked and drove to Los Tarascos because he was afraid for his life and wanted to get someplace where there would be witnesses to what happened next. This is another part of the police narrative with which Green takes issue.
"It wasn’t like for a second, like they said, 'He initially pulled over and led the police on a short chase.' No. He pulled over, had a conversation with the police officer, tried to gain some understanding of what exactly was going on and 'why am I being stopped' and 'what exactly is this for,' and this went on for quite some time." Green said. "He went somewhere where there were people, where there was a population and it wasn’t going to be one police officer with a gun and him, a young Black man on the side of the road and just becoming another statistic."
Green said the dash camera footage showed Inge being respectful and compliant, that he started or ended every sentence with either 'sir' or 'officer,' but he was never told what the stop was about, and the officer kept his gun trained on Inge. Green said the officer sounded scared and stressed, and eventually Inge left the scene, drove less than half a mile down Skyland Boulevard and pulled into the parking lot of Los Tarascos, where he knew his own mother and the mother of his children were waiting.
"I’m sitting and still watching [the footage] and it showed Rod and it showed the police officer coming behind, and Roderick pulled off. He pulled off and went down about a block and a half where Los Tarascos is," Green said. "He pulled over in Los Tarascos and then you don’t see exactly what happens, you see him jump out of the car. The next flash you saw, you saw one second of Roderick run across a police car’s dash cam. You couldn’t tell if it was the same car or the same officer, you just saw about a one-second blip of him go across and run across in front of the dash cam. That’s the last vision that you had of Roderick while he was vertical."
Green said he asked several businesses on Skyland Boulevard for their surveillance footage from that night, including O'Reilly Auto Parts, Los Tarascos and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He said every business that had any footage captured around the time of the incident had already turned it over to police investigators.
"A BAD SHOOT"
Green said he has been given three different accounts of the events that led up to his son's death, and none of them match up with what he has seen in the limited amount of body camera footage to which he's been given access.
First, on April 20th, Kennedy and Mellown reportedly told Green the same story that was shared with members of the media the day after the shooting – that Inge ran into the woods, drew a gun and fired at police. Green said the two investigators told him that officers came upon Inge in a crouching position, wielding a pistol toward them and that officers had to shoot him for their own safety.
"Mr. Mellown told me on three different occasions, and illustrated three times, how my son, when the officer approached my son, he was kind of crouching like this. He wasn’t behind a tree but he was kind of beside a tree as if he was hiding, he was kind of crouched like this and he illustrated this to me three times," Green said. "Then Jack Kennedy said the exact same thing three times and illustrated it to me twice."
When Green met with investigators again on the 29th, he was allowed to watch body camera footage, and he said it doesn't show his son crouched down, pointing a gun at police officers.
"His head was flat on the side of the ground, like he’d been hit, and he was laying two-thirds of the way with his back towards the officer, with his arms stretched out and his feet stretched out and his toes were pointed, like it was a nerve thing. It wasn’t a normal or natural resting position. It was a very unnatural, prone position that he was laying in," Green said. "He’s laying there motionless and the next thing that you see – you can’t tell how many police officers, but they said it was two – you heard about 15 to 20 shots and my son's body is just gyrating. They shot him dead while he was laying motionless on the ground in the prone position on his side presenting absolutely no threat."
During this meeting, Kennedy and Mellown reportedly said their thinking had changed, and they now believed that Inge shot himself that night and TPD officers opened fire thinking he was shooting at them.
"They said, 'What we believe happened here is that Roderick seen that there was no way out and he shot himself in the heart,'" Green recounted. "[They said,] 'Whenever police officers saw that he had shot himself, it frightened them and they shot him 8 to 12 times.'"
Neither the Tuscaloosa Police Department nor the Violent Crimes Unit has publicly amended their April 16th narrative of the events of Inge's death.
Green said in the video he saw, Inge was prone and motionless when officers opened fire on him. There was no muzzle flash as he allegedly shot himself or the sound of a single gunshot followed by a barrage from the officers in the woods.
"I’m watching the whole thing and I don’t see a weapon in his hand, I don’t see a flash come from his body, I don’t see a flash around him," Green said. "He's laying motionless on the ground and you’ve pumped him, you’ve shot 16-18 times and hit him at least 8-10 times."
Finally, there's the account of the officer himself, the man who was wearing the body camera that captured the footage Green was allowed to see. Green said after the final fusillade, he heard others calling out to the officer wearing the camera, asking where the shooting was going on and what happened.
"[The officer] said as he was getting ready to go into the woodline, '[Roderick] pulled a weapon and fired at me and I had to return fire,'" Green recounted.
According to Green, the footage tells a different story. He said the video he saw shows Inge lying motionless on the ground, with his gun 10 to 15 feet away, as at least two officers get almost within arm's reach of him and open fire.
Also at issue is the simple forensic evidence. Green said Kennedy told him the magazine in Inge's .380 pistol was missing two bullets when it was recovered. One, presumably, was lodged in the radiator of his ex-girlfriend's car. How then could Inge have fired a round at the officers who pursued him into the woods and also shot himself in the heart?
"What they had was a bad shoot, and they had to cover it up," Green said. "I charge the Tuscaloosa Police Department with shooting my son, and the crime investigative unit with being complicit in covering it up."
A FATHER'S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
In his interview with the Thread, Green talked about the man Roderick Inge was – a kind and loving father; an obedient, inquisitive son; a generous, compassionate friend and a model employee at Mercedes Benz US International, where his position was soon to send him to Germany for several months of intensive training.
"He was a good man, and I know he was a good man because I’m a good man and I raised him, and he turned out good," Green said. "He had a bright future ahead of him and he was looking forward to it."
A search of Alabama court records indicates Inge had a clean criminal history. He had four traffic citations, but there are no records of his ever being arrested or charged with a crime.
With his son buried, Green said his mission now is to fight for transparency and shed light onto the circumstances of Inge's death. He also denounces and decries what he sees as a conflict of interest as the VCU investigates officers of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
"I want to make certain that any family who loses a family member at the hands of the police, who are supposed to be working for us, that they are made priority one," Green said. "Not their fellow Blue officers just because they’re a member of the same union on they’re marrying into the same families. I know that the Tuscaloosa County is doing this investigation and the Tuscaloosa Police Department isn’t, but man, there’s probably marriages between their families. They probably go to the same cop bars or hang out together or go up to the gym together or take classes together. You shouldn’t have the police department trying to police themselves. It’s a conflict of interest and you have parents and loved ones sitting here with no answers, none, with zero answers."
Green said he plans to hire a lawyer and take this fight to the court system, the only place he believes he'll be able to get more answers about the death of his son.
"It will definitely take an attorney and a lawsuit in order to compel them to give me, to let me watch the video," Green said. "I've asked and I’ve knocked and now you’ve asked and you’ve knocked and there’s been several other people who have asked and knocked and trust me, there’s no answer coming. The only way that they’re gonna show this is with a court order because it makes them look bad. It makes them look bad."
In the search for answers about the night of the shooting, the Tuscaloosa Thread has individually asked Mayor Maddox, Captain Kennedy and District Attorney Hays Webb to release the footage recorded that night. Each denied that request.
"The District Attorney was very clear to the City and VCU that they are in custody/control of the evidence and that they will present it to the grand jury," Maddox said in an email. "The City was directed not to release any evidence and we will not violate an order from the District Attorney. Our prior statements on this matter speak for themselves and I stand by them."
Kennedy said to release footage would break VCU precedent and jeopardize a fair grand jury hearing for the officers involved in the shooting.
"The VCU is conducting an independent investigation into this case. The investigation is ongoing at this time. Once complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury for evaluation," Kennedy said. "For this process to function, the impartiality of the grand jury is paramount. The VCU has never released video, autopsy reports, or any other evidence in any pending case while it is under investigation."
District Attorney Webb went into significant detail to outline the circumstances under which his office would publicly release evidence. His full statement is below.
I am certainly mindful of your concern and of the public’s legitimate interest. We believe that decisions should be made based on propriety and not on political pressure. To that end, we previously established a policy regarding release of body cam evidence.
The analysis is straightforward:
1. The first question is, will release of the information in any fashion impede the criminal investigation? If so, the footage will not be released.
2. Is there a legitimate public interest in this information? Commonly, where there is a death related to governmental action, there is a legitimate public concern.
3. Finally, will release of the video accurately advance public knowledge without the need for additional context? The video must, when taken alone, accurately advance the public’s knowledge.
Importantly, given the legitimate grounds for public interest in this case, the video was previously shared with the family. However, it has not yet been presented to the Grand Jury (I understand that investigators are still awaiting the return of some additional information), and its release could potentially affect the investigation. Too, and most importantly from my perspective, no single video fully captures the events in their entirety and thus none accurately advances the public’s knowledge. Because of this, the videos you’ve requested will not be released.
With regard to such requests, the results will not always be the same. However, our analysis will always be consistent, driven by what is right and proper and not by what is politically expedient.
The two officers who were directly involved in the shooting remain on paid administrative leave until the VCU's investigation concludes and all evidence is presented to a grand jury, who will then determine whether to indict the officers and bring charges against them.
Green believes until that time, and likely for a long time afterward, he is going to be fighting to clear his son's name.
"The only thing I can do is carry my son up the hill. I had to bury my son without his honor. Do you know what I’m saying? I don’t know if you know what that means to a Black man," Green said. "He's a good person. He's a good man, period. But I had to bury that good man without his honor and without his dignity. I had to bury him wearing the black hat and being the bad guy."
Stay connected to The Tuscaloosa Thread for more updates on this case as they become available.