District Attorney General Ray Crouch’s office said Friday evening that the recent police shooting that killed the mother of world boxing champion Caleb Plant “justified.”
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents began investigating the circumstances of the fatal shooting in Cheatham County overnight on March 9. The preliminary investigation showed that a 911 call was placed to transport an Ashland City woman to a hospital, but she “became combative” in the ambulance and pulled a knife from her backpack. EMS personnel called for law enforcement, and the deputy fired at the woman when she “brandished a knife” at him.
She was later identified as the boxer’s mother.
“The use of deadly force is justified when a law enforcement officer reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself, or third persons, against the other’s use or attempted use of deadly force,” Crouch’s office said in a statement. “The application of law to the facts and evidence gathered in this case lead me to conclude that Sgt. (Paul) Ivey’s use of deadly force was justified.”
The Cheatham County Grand Jury will review this case in its May term of court. The bureau’s investigation will be finalized “upon receipt of the autopsy report,” according to the Office of the District Attorney General.
The “tragic and sorrowful incident” — as Crouch referred to the shooting in his statement after extending his “sympathy and condolences” to Beth Plant’s family — began around 12:43 a.m. when the 911 call was placed.
Cheatham County EMS and the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Joelton residence and transported Plant, 51, to a medical facility at about 1:27 a.m.
“While en route to Vanderbilt Hospital, Ms. Plant removed a fixed blade knife from her backpack and brandished the knife at EMS personnel,” Crouch’s statement read. “EMS requested law enforcement assistance for a combative patient … EMS personnel observed Ms. Plant stabbing the windows of the ambulance and attempting to harm herself.”
Ivey arrived at the scene, where the ambulance had pulled over at Highway 41-A and New Hope Road, around 1:33 a.m.
“Sgt. Ivey ordered Ms. Plant to drop the knife,” Crouch said in his statement. “Ms. Plant then moved toward Sgt. Ivey with knife in plain view. Sgt. Ivey retreated from his initial position. Ms. Plant followed Sgt. Ivey as documented in the body worn camera and patrol car video.
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“Sgt. Ivey gave eight verbal commands to ‘drop the knife,’ ” the statement continues. “Sgt. Ivey clearly warned Ms. Plant that he would ‘shoot.’ Ms. Plant, despite the warnings, continued toward Sgt. Ivey.”
Ivey fired, striking Plant. EMS personnel administered first aid.
Plant was transported to Tristar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, where she died of her injuries.
The Tennessean has requested body camera and patrol car footage of the shooting.
Previously, Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove spoke with the Tennessean about protocol in deadly-force encounters and defended his deputies in the wake of two recent shootings by police in Cheatham County, including the one that killed Beth Plant.
“We’re trained to stop the threat,” Breedlove said. “She had ample, ample opportunity to drop the knife, she just refused to …(The) deputies did everything within policy and the law to do what they had to do to stop the threat.”