Courtney McKinney of Sylacauga was stopped for driving too close to another car around 5 p.m. on U.S. 280 by the Alexander City Walmart, Robinson said. Police had already received several calls about McKinney driving recklessly, he said.
When police approached McKinney’s gray Ford Mustang, he provided a driver’s license, but had no insurance. In addition, the tag on the vehicle did not belong to that car.
“An officer asked the driver to step out of the vehicle to question him about the switched tag,” Robinson said. “A strong odor of marijuana was coming from the vehicle, and officers saw what appeared to be a weapon in the vehicle. It was at that point that the driver took off.”
A car chase ensued, in which two patrol cars followed McKinney’s vehicle into Sylacauga. The chase culminated in an alley between Norton and Broadway avenues, Talladega County Coroner Shaddix Murphy said.
“That’s where police basically blocked him off,” Murphy said. “He began to run on foot, and when police caught up to him, he put the gun to himself and shot himself.”
Robinson said police had backed away from McKinney when they noticed the gun in his hand and had asked him repeatedly to drop the gun and lay on the ground, to no avail.
McKinney was taken to the emergency department at Coosa Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., Murphy said. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head.
The body was sent to Montgomery for an autopsy, Murphy said, and the incident is under investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigations.
Sylacauga Police Chief Chris Carden said Sylacauga Police responded to the incident, with one patrol car even becoming involved in the chase, when the chase entered city limits; however, he said that is the extent of Sylacauga’s involvement.
Robinson said he requested that the state look into the incident since it involved a car chase and serious injury. State Trooper Sgt. Steve Jarrett said ABI considers it a death investigation. He said the state will turn its findings over to the Tallapoosa County district attorney’s office, which will present them before a grand jury. Once a grand jury disposes of the case, he said, the findings will become public record.
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