Crime

More details emerge in fatal shooting involving Columbus police officer

A day after a Columbus police officer fatally shot a suspect and injured two passengers after an early Sunday two-state car chase that ended in Phenix City more details about the situation began to emerge.

Police Chief Ricky Boren said Officer 1st Class Allan Brown, 27, fired the shots early Sunday that fatally wounded Christian Redwine, 17, who was allegedly driving a stolen car that police chased into Phenix City.

Brown, who has been on the force for four years and nine months, is currently on administrative leave with pay, Boren said.

Brown will remain on administrative leave or administrative assignment until the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency completes its investigation, Boren said. ALEA will turn over its findings to the Russell County District Attorney’s Office, Cpl. Jesse Thornton said on Monday.

Redwine, the driver of a Pontiac that was reported stolen, was shot by Brown after losing control of the vehicle on Riverchase Drive in Phenix City around 4:30 a.m. Details of what led the officer to fire into the car have not been released. Brown was the only officer to fire his weapon, multiple sources familiar with the situation said.

Two passengers, Hunter M. Tillis and Hannah Wuenschel, were in the stolen vehicle and also injured by gunfire in the incident. Late Monday, they both were released from Midtown Medical Center and arrested by Columbus police on theft by taking charges.

It does not appear Tillis or Wuenschel will face charges in Phenix City, according to Police Capt. George Staudinger.

“Normally in cases like that where stolen property is brought over here, we would charge somebody with bringing stolen property into the state,” he said. “The person who was actually in physical control of the vehicle has passed, so I don’t believe we would be able to make a case for that on them.”

Tillis’ attorney, Stacey Jackson, said on Monday his client was shot in the face.

Redwine and Tillis, 19, both have been in extensive legal trouble this year.

Tillis faces a variety of charges on separate incidents, ranging from criminal damage in the second degree to first-degree arson.

He was arrested in Muscogee County on April 3 and charged with felony criminal damage in the second degree and simple battery, a misdemeanor. He bonded out of the Muscogee County Jail on April 5.

Tillis was arrested again April 24 and charged with first-degree arson and second-degree burglary, both felonies. He was released on bond on April 27.

While in the Harris County Jail, he was charged in Muscogee County on Oct. 11 with theft by taking of a motor vehicle. He was released on bond the same day.

All three cases remain open, according to court records.

Jackson said he has not talked to Tillis since the Sunday shooting, but he has been in contact with a close family member.

“None of the current charges have been indicted,” Jackson said on Monday. “I can’t give you much detail on the cases, but the rundown you have seems accurate.”

Redwine had also recently been in legal trouble. He was released on his own recognizance Nov. 1 on a burglary charge by Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Gil McBride, according to court records.

Redwine had pleaded guilty in August in Muscogee County Superior Court to theft by taking of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 3 years with 12 months to serve upon completion of a rehabilitation program at the Probation Day Reporting Center, according to court records. Redwine also pleaded guilty to a financial transaction fraud charge at the same time as the theft by taking charge, according to court records.

Chief Smith said he asked for the ALEA investigation into the fatal shooting because his agency was involved in the pursuit once it crossed the state line.

The roundabout route the chase took from north Columbus to north Phenix City also became more clear on Monday.

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Columbus police were following the vehicle on Gentian and Reese roads near Columbus State University’s main campus when the vehicle was identified as stolen.

Columbus police initiated a traffic stop near that point around 4:30 a.m., when the four-door, silver Pontiac accelerated. The chase went into downtown Columbus where the driver of the Pontiac, identified as Redwine, crossed the 13th Street bridge into Alabama.

Phenix City police then joined the chase, Chief Smith said. The car, with officers from Columbus and Phenix City giving chase, turned right onto Opelika Road, Smith said. The car got on U.S. 80, then U.S. 280 and headed back toward Columbus.

“At that point, our guys broke off the chase because we thought it was going back to Columbus,” Smith said.

The driver exited at Riverchase Drive, the last Alabama exit before the state line. The Pontiac went off the road at Riverchase Drive. A Columbus police officer, who had seen the car exit on Riverchase, got out of his vehicle and encountered three suspects.

Brown fired an unknown number of shots from his weapon, the report said. Columbus police have yet to identify the officer.

Smith said that Columbus police have the authority to chase a suspect into Phenix City and his officers can chase into Columbus.

“If you are in hot pursuit, you can continue to pursue,” Smith said.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who is the city’s public safety director, issued the following statement on Monday:

“We send our condolences and prayers to the family and loved ones of the young man lost, and those others injured, in this unfortunate circumstance,” Tomlinson said in the statement. “We also send support and prayers to our police officers who were on the scene. We are grateful for the training that our officers receive to guide them in the sometimes volatile conditions of pursuit and attempted arrest of suspects. We further are thankful to the Russell County District Attorney’s Office and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for their independent review of this incident. We urge a thorough, though speedy, resolution to all matters related to this tragic event.”

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams

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