CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee — Seven bounty hunters were charged with first degree murder for fatally shooting an innocent, unarmed man in a wild chase in Tennessee after they mistook him for a wanted fugitive.
Police say 24-year-old Jalen Johnson was killed and another man wounded when the bounty hunters descended upon a car they were in with two others in a Walmart parking lot on April 23.
Investigators say none of the men in the car were the person the bounty hunters were looking for and that Johnson, a father of three, was unarmed and had done nothing wrong.
The men took off in their vehicle after the bounty hunters opened fire. They gave chase for seven miles, ramming the vehicle and continuing to fire. The gunfire left Johnson dead and wounded a second passenger, cops said.
Johnson’s uncle, Toni Jenkins, told The Associated Press that his nephew and the others in the car thought they were being attacked by gang members, causing them to flee.
Bail bondsmen have the authority to hire or act as bounty hunters to bring in bail jumpers, but they can only use deadly force unless in self-defense.
The men charged include: William L. Byles, 31; Kenneth Chiasson, 38; Antwon D. Keesee, 32; Jonathan Schnepp, 31; Roger D. West, 31; Prentice L. Williams, 34 and Joshua Young, 27.
They face a charge of first-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated assault, employing a firearm in commission of a dangerous felony and felony reckless endangerment, police said.