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'Friendly Fire' Believed to Have Struck Memphis Officer Killed in Shootout

Officer Joseph McKinney joined the Memphis Police Department in 2020.
Courtesy of the Memphis Police Department
Officer Joseph McKinney joined the Memphis Police Department in 2020.

Shelby County prosecutors are seeking to transfer a 17-year-old juvenile alleged to be involved in the fatal shooting of a Memphis police officer last week to adult court for charges including attempted first degree murder.

The unidentified juvenile is not facing a homicide charge for the death of Officer Joseph McKinney because the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office believes that McKinney was struck by “friendly fire” during the shootout on April 12.

"Although current information indicates friendly fire, we believe the 17-year-old’s reprehensible actions are still the real cause of Officer McKinney’s death,” the DA’s office said in a statement. “Should a legal avenue open up for additional prosecution, be assured we will pursue it.”

The 17-year-old was hospitalized with critical injuries from the exchange of gunfire.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting per standard protocol.

According to police officials, officers responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle around 2 a.m. on Friday. A driver and a passenger in the vehicle are accused of firing at officers, who then shot back.

The two suspects fled the scene in the vehicle, according to Police Chief CJ Davis, who briefed reporters last week. One suspect was apprehended a short distance later, Davis said, while the other fled again and was located nearby. Both were transported to the hospital in critical condition from apparent gunshot wounds.

An 18-year-old suspect, Jaylen Lobley, died from his injuries. Two other police officers were also injured in the shootout.

In addition to an attempted murder, the 17-year-old juvenile will also face additional charges including assault against a first responder, aggravated assault and theft of property.

A cumulative maximum sentence could result in more than 100 years in prison.

"We continue to mourn the death of Officer Joseph McKinney as we learn this new information," the Memphis Police Department said in a statement. "The facts remain that our officers responded to a very violent encounter that tragically resulted in Officer McKinney being fatally shot."

Katie is a part-time WKNO contributor. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org