According to authorities, Deputy Mike Claiborne, 25, was with his girlfriend at about 11:30 p.m. when he was shot in the head at a residence on Rowe Gap Road.
Claiborne was off-duty at the time, said investigators. Claiborne’s friends said he worked late hours, from 4 p.m. until 6 a.m., so house hunting that late at night seemed normal to him.
Neighbors said Larry White lives at the home and has experienced several break-ins. They added that White may have thought someone was attempting to burglarize his home.
It was still not clear what led to the gunfire.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it was not finished with its investigation and planned to turn its findings over to the district attorney, who will present them to a grand jury.
White has not been arrested. Authorities said he flew back to Florida where his primary home is located which is frustrating for some of Claiborne’s friends and co-workers.
Visitation will be held Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. The funeral will be held at Higgins Funeral Home at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The family is asking that donations be made to a memorial fund for Claiborne’s 18-month-old son, Kollin, that has been established at U.S. Bank.
Was Shooting Justified?
The Channel 4 I-Team sifted through Tennessee laws and found if “a person has a reasonable belief that there is an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury,” then deadly force could come into play.
In this instance, criminal defense attorney David Raybin said, it’s a gray area. Self-defense is subjective and based on the reasonableness of the persons actions based on all the facts.
Raybin said because there seems to be no signs of an attempted break, Claiborne looks like the victim. But at the same time, Raybin said, because Claiborne was on White’s porch and close to his door at such a late hour of the night, and because of White’s disability and prior threat, White could have been following the law.
“It would depend on where the officer was shot. If he was shot in the front, if he was coming toward the homeowner, then a case could be made for self-defense. If he were moving away, it would be a lot more difficult to say he was in danger at that point,” said Raybin.
The Tennessee Bureau of investigation is still investigating this case. They will hand their findings to the district attorney to present to a grand jury July 6.
Raybin said because of the factual questions in this case, it will be up to a grand jury to determine whether White should be charged with manslaughter, reckless homicide or nothing.