KPD e-News Release: Suspect Taken Into Custody After Attempting to Kill Officer

Kingsport Police Department

200 Shelby Street • Kingsport, TN 37660

ThomasMPatton • 423-229-9433 (Desk) • 423-224-2786 (FAX)

SUBJECT: Suspect Taken Into Custody After Attempting to Kill Officer
DATE: April 14, 2014
On April 13, 2014 at approximately 2:15 AM, Kingsport Police Patrol Officers responded to 313 Glen Avenue to investigate a report of a suspicious person snooping around the resident’s van. Upon their arrival, the officers located the described individual across the street from this residence, in the parking lot of a church.

The suspect, identified as Michael L. Austin, claimed to be walking to his nearby residence at 349 Glen Avenue. He exhibited obvious signs of intoxication including difficulty standing and thick, slurred speech. Mr. Austin was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tasks on which he performed poorly.

Mr. Austin was found to be in possession of a folding hawk bill style knife and a bottle of Buprenorphine, which is an ingredient in Suboxone. These items were placed on the hood of a police cruiser while the officers completed their investigation.

Kingsport Central Dispatch broadcast a nearby motor vehicle crash with injuries, so the primary officer released his backup officer to respond the crash. As the primary officer attempted to arrest Mr. Austin for the offense of public intoxication, he began resisting and violently jerked away.

Mr. Austin aggressively turned on the officer, punched him in the face, and then lunged for his knife on the hood of the car. The officer attempted to prevent Mr. Austin from reaching the weapon. Mr. Austin continued to assault the officer, striking him multiple times in the face and trying to shove his finger into his eye.

Throughout the altercation, Mr. Austin broke free several times and attempted to reach his knife, but each time, the officer fought him back away from the weapon. Finally Mr. Austin was able to overcome the officer and reach his knife. He opened the blade of the folding knife and advanced on the officer.

The officer deployed his Taser, striking Mr. Austin in the midsection. Mr. Austin dropped to one knee; however, as soon as the Taser completed its cycle, he cut the wires with his knife. Mr. Austin began screaming incoherently, cut a deep laceration in his own hand, and continued advancing on the officer.

In fear for his life, the officer dropped the Taser and drew his sidearm. The officer backed away from Mr. Austin, continually ordering him to drop the knife. The officer continued to retreat across the parking lot until his back was against a fence. He instructed Mr. Austin that if he took one more step toward him he would shoot him.

Mr. Austin told the officer, “You’ll have to shoot me in the back,” and turned and began walking away. The officer followed Mr. Austin down Glen Avenue at a safe distance and used the lull as an opportunity to call for backup. Mr. Austin stopped at a pile of debris on the side of the road and retrieved a large piece of 2×4 lumber. He then dropped the board and ran down the road into his own yard at 349 Glen Avenue.

The officer pursued and continued to give multiple commands for Mr. Austin to drop the knife. Mr. Austin tried to enter his house, but when he was unable to do so, he picked up a landscaping brick and threw it at the officer. The officer had to dodge the brick to keep from being struck in the upper torso.

A backup officer arrived and deployed his Taser on Mr. Austin to no effect. The backup officer retrieved a less-lethal (beanbag) shotgun from his cruiser. Mr. Austin threw a second landscaping brick at the backup officer nearly striking him in the head. The backup officer deployed the less lethal shotgun, striking Mr. Austin once with no effect, a second time with no effect, and finally a third time which brought Mr. Austin to his knees.

Several additional backup officers arrived on the scene and found Mr. Austin still in possession of the knife and the first two officers continuing to order him at gunpoint to drop the weapon. One of the additional backup officers deployed his Taser. The Taser seemed to have a minimal effect; however, as soon as the Taser completed its cycle, Mr. Austin tried to stand up. The Taser was deployed two more times with the same minimal effect.

With several officers now on scene, and Mr. Austin slightly subdued, the officers were finally able to disarm him of the knife and bring him into custody. Sullivan County E.M.S. responded to the scene and provided on scene treatment for the laceration Mr. Austin had inflicted to his own hand. He was then transported to Holston Valley Medical Center to determine if he needed further treatment.

Once Mr. Austin was released from the hospital, he was transported to the Kingsport City Jail, where he was booked on multiple charges including:

1) Attempted Second Degree Murder

2) Aggravated Assault

3) Public Intoxication

4) Resisting Arrest

5) Simple Possession/Casual Exchange

A nearby resident who witnessed a portion of this incident gave a similar account and commended the officers for their restraint.

David Quillin, Chief of Police, stated, “I’m just thankful that none of my officers were seriously injured, and they all went home in one piece at the end of their shift. This is certainly a stark reminder of just how dangerous this job can be at times.”

Each year on average there are over 50,000 officers that are assaulted in the line of duty and 100 that are killed in the line of duty. The vast majority of individuals who resist arrest simply do not want to go to jail or they are attempting to flee. Very few offensively attack the officer as Mr. Austin did.

Due to Mr. Austin’s extreme level of resistance, and his violent and imminently threatening behavior with three different deadly weapons (a knife, a piece of lumber, and concrete bricks) the officers in this incident would have been fully justified in using deadly force to stop the threat. All of the responding Kingsport Police Officers involved, especially the primary officer, showed extraordinary restraint in this incident, in bringing Mr. Austin to justice by less lethal means.

Name Michael L. Austin
Age 41 Years of Age
Race/Gender White/Male
Residency 349 Glenn Avenue

Kingsport, TN

Charge(s) 1) Attempted Second Degree Murder

2) Aggravated Assault

3) Public Intoxication

4) Resisting Arrest

5) Simple Possession/Casual Exchange

Thomas M. Patton, Public Information Officer

Kingsport Police Department Professional Standards Unit

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