Police Officer and 18-Year-Old Suspect Killed by Gunfire in Memphis, Tennessee

Police Officer and 18-Year-Old Suspect Killed by Gunfire in Memphis, Tennessee
File photo of police tape. (Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—A Memphis police officer and an 18-year-old suspect were killed in a shooting as officers investigated a suspicious vehicle early Friday.

A second suspect, who is 17, was in critical condition, and another Memphis police officer was injured but not in critical condition, interim Police Director CJ Davis said at a news conference outside a Memphis hospital. A third officer was grazed and treated at the scene.

Ms. Davis identified the officer who was killed as Joseph McKinney and said he been on the force about three years.

The 18-year-old suspect, whom Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy identified in a news release as Jaylen Lobley, was arrested last month in a stolen vehicle.

“He was also charged at that time for two stolen vehicles and having a programming device commonly used to steal cars,” Ms. Davis said. However, he was released without bond.

Mr. Mulroy said in a news release that he is “outraged and deeply saddened by Officer Joseph McKinney’s passing.” He said a Shelby County Judicial Commissioner made the decision to release Mr. Lobley on his own recognizance—with conditions including reporting and curfew—and did so despite prosecutors strongly arguing against it, citing the defendant’s danger to the community.

The DA’s office had prioritized Mr. Lobley’s case as part of its violent crimes initiative that targets people found with stolen cars and guns or Glock switches that convert semi-automatic guns into automatic guns, Mr. Mulroy said. And even though Mr. Lobley was a first-time offender, his case had been accepted for federal prosecution.

Ms. Davis said she did not know what prompted the original call reporting the suspicious vehicle at around 2 a.m. The officers were fired upon when they approached it, and they returned fire, she said.

The suspects drove off but stopped a few blocks away, police said. One suspect was taken into custody immediately. They second fled but was found nearby, police said.

Police have contacted both the prosecutor’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which was already out on the scene Friday morning, she said.

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