Video: Opelika officer shoots, kills man during traffic stop
Dashboard-camera video shows the motorist fatally shot by an Opelika, Ala., on Oct. 31 repeatedly ignored the officer’s commands and continued to resist arrest before pulling a pistol.
“Drop it right now! Drop it right now!” Officer Jared Greer shouted at Bennie Lee Tignor, 56, before rapidly firing nine shots from his .40-caliber sidearm. Tignor then fell to the ground.
A grand jury since has declined to indict the 29-year-old officer for any wrongdoing.
“Due process has been followed, and we stand by the findings of the Lee County grand jury,” Police Chief John McEachern III said in a statement.
Tignor was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. Nov. 1 at the East Alabama Medical Center.
Tignor appears intoxicated on the video. Footage of the police pursuit — a low-speed chase at 15 to 25 mph, even on Ala. Highway 169 where the speed limit’s 55 mph — shows Tignor weaving across the center line and ignoring Greer’s blue lights and siren.
In a news conference after the fatal shooting, McEachern said Greer saw Tignor commit a traffic violation around 11:50 p.m. that Saturday while traveling east on Williamson Avenue. Using a turn signal each time he made a turn, and at one point leaving the signal blinking afterward, Tignor continued on to his Commanche Drive mobile home.
There Tignor exited the SUV and ignored Officer Greer as he approached, shouting, “Driver, stop right there! Stop right there, driver! Let me see your hands now! Let me see your hands!”
Tignor walked on, nonchalantly climbing the steps and opening the screen door to the trailer before Greer grabbed him and pulled him back. Then the two started to struggle.
“You’re fighting me!” Tignor exclaimed.
“Get your hands up!” yelled Greer. “Get down here on the ground! Get down here on the ground now!”
Trying to handcuff the suspect, Greer shouted, “Put your hands behind your back right now! You’re under arrest. Put your hands behind your back!”
“For what?” Tignor asked.
“For attempting to elude. Put your hands behind your back,” Greer answered.
“I ain’t trying to elude!” Tignor protested as he continued to pull away.
A woman came to the trailer’s door. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“He’s under arrest,” Greer replied.
“Under arrest for what?” the woman asked.
“For driving under the influence and for attempting to elude a police officer,” said Greer, who on his radio called for backup: “Step it up!”
Tignor pulled free of the officer. Apparently speaking to the woman, he said, “This motherf-----’s out here trying to fight me, baby.”
“Turn around! Put your hands behind your back now!” Greer shouted again.
Then Tignor pulled what police described as a small, semi-automatic pistol, and Greer drew his gun and fired.
“Double zero! Shots fired! Shots fired! Double zero!” the officer yelled into his radio.
Tignor apparently tried to get up, as Greer began shouting, “Stay down! Stay down on the ground, now! Stay down!”
A second officer then arrived. “Where’s the gun?” he asked.
“Over here,” Greer replied. “Turn him.”
The second officer pulled Tignor to one side. “Gun right here!” Greer said. “Right here, gun.”
Greer on his police radio called for an ambulance. The woman in the trailer could be heard wailing.
McEachern said after the shooting that he believed it was “clearly justified under Alabama law.” The dashboard video was turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, and the bureau’s findings were submitted to the grand jury.
The police chief said Tignor’s criminal record listed 20 arrests since 1976 for violations such as assault, burglary, auto theft, menacing, driving under the influence and weapons offenses. Tignor also has used about 25 aliases over the years, the chief said.