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A spirit that is not afraid

UPDATE: Opelika police chief said officer-involved shooting was justified, family disagrees

An Opelika police officer shot and killed a man after a low-speed car chase and a struggle Saturday, Oct. 31.

A police officer, identified as Jared Greer, a three and a half year veteran, was attempting to pull over Bennie Lee Tignor, 56, who was driving a 2003 Ford Explorer late Saturday, according to John McEachern III, Opelika chief of police. 

Greer was not injured in the incident and has been put on administrative leave.

Greer first spotted Tignor driving east on Williamson Avenue and followed him, according to McEachern. They continued onto Marvyn Parkway. Greer attempted to stop Tignor while they were driving on Crawford Road by turning on his lights and siren.

When Tignor refused to pull over, a short chase ensued. The chase ended at the 400 block of Comanchee Drive, where Tignor stopped at his residence. According to McEachern, the speed of the chase never exceeded 30 mph.

The shooting occurred at approximately 11:50 p.m., after an altercation, according to McEachern. Greer and Tignor were approximately 10-15 feet away when the shooting occurred.

"At some point during the struggle, Mr. Tignor brandished a small-caliber pistol," McEachern said during a press conference Monday, Nov. 2. "Officer Greer, fearing for his safety, drew his department-issued weapon and fired multiple rounds at Mr. Tignor."

OPD officers are equipped with a 40-caliber Sig Sauer semi-autimoatic pistol. McEachern did not comment on the gun Tignor had or whether it was loaded. 

"The issue presented in this case is whether, at the instant Officer Greer fired his shots that caused the death of Mr. Tignor, he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death from the actions of Mr. Tignor," McEachern said. "Based on preliminary review of the facts of this case, I believe the actions of Officer Greer were clearly justified under Alabama law."

Tignor was transported to the East Alabama Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, according to McEachern.

Tignor has an arrest history dating back to 1976, according to McEachern, including assault, DUI and menacing.

McEachern said there is dash cam video of the incident, but it's up to the State Bureau of Investigation to decide if it will be released. 

Bernard Tignor, brother of Bennie Lee Tignor, said his brother did not own a gun and had not owned one for five years. 

"Someone's got to look into this more deeper, and that's what we intend to do," Bernard said.

Bernard said Bennie Lee and Greer got into a fight, and Bennie Lee overpowered Greer.

"An individual who was on the scene has video on her camera of what happened," Bernard said.

Bernard said he could not share the video, but said a neighbor recorded it and he saw it on Sunday. He said his family is "persuing this issue" with an attorney but had not given the video to them.

"He and the officer was involved in a fight," Bernard said. "He got the best of the officer, and the officer shot him. And I don't understand why you would have to shoot him multiple times."

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The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an independent investigation. According to McEachern, all findings will be handed over to Lee County District Attorney Robbie Treese, who will present it to a grand jury.

Read Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller's statement below.

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