While local law enforcement officials had hoped to learn the preliminary results of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe of last weekend's officer-involved shooting in Oneida by the middle of this week, the agency says it could actually be much longer before it wraps up its investigation and turns over its findings to the district attorney's office.
A TBI spokesperson told the Independent Herald Tuesday that the results of an autopsy conducted on 30-year-old Harlan Lewallen, the suspect killed in the incident could take "several weeks" to complete.
Leslie Earhart, the TBI's public information officer, said the results of the investigation would be turned over to the office of District Attorney General Jared Effler once the investigation is completed. Effler requested the investigation as a standard response to the officer-involved shooting.
Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips — who, along with Oneida Chief of Police Darryl Laxton, has declined comment in the aftermath of Saturday's incident out of respect for the TBI's investigation — told the Independent Herald Monday that he hoped to be able to release information about the shooting by mid-week.
Officers from both law enforcement agencies were involved in the incident, which saw Lewallen killed when one or more officers opened fire on his vehicle. According to the TBI, Lewallen had accelerated his vehicle towards the officers after a traffic stop, nearly striking them.
The incident, which occurred around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, May 27, in the parking lot of a convenience store near the intersection of Alberta Street and Depot Street, followed a police pursuit through Oneida. Witnesses said officers began pursuing Lewallen's vehicle near Walmart on the "Four Lane" section of Alberta Street, about 1.5 miles north of where the vehicle eventually stopped.
According to the TBI, a female passenger — who has not been named — was removed from the vehicle, but Lewallen refused to comply with officers' demands and began accelerating the vehicle, which nearly struck officers.
While the TBI's preliminary statement did not specify how Lewallen died, it is assumed that he died from gunshot wounds, which caused his vehicle to crash nearby.
Investigators have not said why Lewallen was originally being pursued. He had a lengthy criminal history in north Georgia, and family ties to Scott County.