LAKELAND — Circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a Lakeland woman last year do not support the filing of criminal charges against the two deputies who shot her, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said on Feb. 1.
The case involved the March 17, 2017, shooting death of 59-year-old Nancy Jane Lewellyn, who had said in a call to Shelby County Sheriff’s Office dispatch that she was sick, had a gun and was going to kill herself or “the next somebody I see.”
The ruling came after Weirich and a team of veteran homicide prosecutors reviewed an investigative report compiled by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Violent Crime Response Team.
“A thorough review of the TBI report showed that there are no criminal charges that could be brought against these two officers that would carry a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” Weirich said. “The victim made it clear that she was intent on causing deadly harm to herself or to others, and she left the deputies with no other choice but to fire their weapons. This was a tragic event for everyone involved.”
Lewellyn was armed with a large pistol as she came out the front door of a residence on Woodland Pine Cove West in Lakeland and was shot. She had told the dispatcher moments earlier that she had a gun that she guessed was a .45-cal. pistol. The gun was later identified as a Marksman Repeater BB pistol.
By law, TBI reports on officer-involved fatal shootings before May 4, 2017, are not open to the public without a subpoena or a court order. Weirich has filed a petition in Chancery court to open the TBI file to the public and approved by the court. (For incidents after that date, a new law now allows such reports to be made public without such a court order.)
All fatal shootings involving officers of the Memphis Police Department or the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office are investigated by the TBI by virtue of a memorandum of understanding signed in 2015 by those parties and Weirich.
The final report goes to the district attorney for a legal review of the factual findings, a determination of whether any criminal laws were violated and a decision as to whether an indictment should be sought through the grand jury.
The TBI report will be posted at www.scdag.com. The report will be redacted by court order.