MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officers who opened fire and killed a suspect in a South Memphis mobile home park in 2019 were justified under criminal law, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said Thursday.
Willie Hudson, 33, was killed as the multi-agency gang unit served a felony arrest warrant on a home on Haven Circle. Investigators say he fired several rounds at deputies, hitting one multiple times and critically wounding him.
Five officers returned fire. They included four members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Team and a Memphis police officer with a K-9.
An autopsy showed Hudson sustained 58 gunshots to his torso, arms, legs, and feet.
Hudson, 33, had felony arrest warrants for attempted first-degree murder and for convicted felon in possession of a handgun related to a shooting of a man six days earlier in the Peppertree Apartments, Weirich’s office said.
Weirich said the office reviewed only criminal law, not potential civil liability or law enforcement policy. The TBI report, as well as a PowerPoint summary by DA Weirich, can be viewed at https://www.scdag.com/officer-involved-deaths
This is the timeline of the incident, according to the DA:
The officers learned from residents that Hudson was hiding inside a crawl space behind a bookcase in a small bedroom in the single-wide trailer. After repeated commands to come out and surrender were ignored by the suspect, two officers who began pulling back the bookcase were met with gunfire from Hudson.
One officer was struck several times in the arm and the left thigh, while another officer was bitten by the K-9 in the commotion. The three officers returned fire until the two who were injured could be removed and taken to a hospital. The MPD K-9 handler’s body-worn camera shows events up to the moment of confrontation, but shuts down as the dog pulls violently on his leash. There is nothing to indicate the officer turned off the camera.
Two other sheriff’s officers then entered the room, and a second round of shooting began after an officer shouted at Hudson, “Don’t do it. Do not touch that weapon.” Hudson, who had told acquaintances earlier he was not going back to jail and was not coming out alive, was still in the small hiding space when he was pronounced dead. His black-and-gray handgun was recovered nearby.
“The number of shots fired is not relevant under the law in determining whether these officers were justified in their response,” said DA Weirich. “This was an unexpected, life-or-death gunfight in close quarters involving a desperate suspect and five officers, one of whom was immediately hit several times. These officers were there to make a lawful arrest of a violent felon who without warning inflicted serious bodily injury on one officer and posed a deadly threat to the others.”