published Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Alabama man shot by deputy

An Alabama man is in critical condition at Erlanger hospital after authorities said he threatened to kill himself and was shot by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office deputy on the Fourth of July.

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The Alabama Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate whether the deputy, whose name has been withheld by authorities at this time, followed the sheriff’s office use-of-force procedures, said Sheriff Jimmy Harris in a news release.

ABI officials referred all questions on their investigation to their Huntsville office, but officials there didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Harris didn’t return several calls seeking comment. In a news release, the sheriff said the initial report shows the “officers handled things exactly how they should have. They followed our use-of-force policy to a T.”

About 7 p.m. CDT Monday, sheriff’s deputies found Larry Steele, of Mentone, Ala., intoxicated and waving a gun, threatening to kill himself on County Road 635, Harris said.

Several deputies tried to persuade the 45-year-old man to drop his weapon, but Steele refused and threatened the officers, Harris said. A deputy then shot Steele with a Taser, but the stun gun was ineffective, he said.

Steele began to raise his weapon at the deputy who had fired the Taser, Harris said. The deputy took cover, and another shot at Steele, hitting him twice, the sheriff said.

Steele, who was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at Erlanger, has several DUI charges on his record, said the sheriff’s spokeswoman, Stanna Guice, in an email.

Meanwhile, the deputy who fired the shots was put on administrative leave pending the investigation, the sheriff said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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