East Ridge, TN — In a blow to police accountability, Lt. Daniel Stephenson was found by his own department to have acted in accord with department policy for shooting and killing Todd Browning.

The facts of the case are simple. On August 19, police were called because of reports of a man armed with a knife. Shortly after the call, police encountered Browing, 54, less than a mile away. Within less than a minute after Stephenson walked to the front of his cruiser, he would put four .223 rounds into the chest of Browning.

Browning was not holding a knife. Instead, he was ‘armed’ with a water main key — a thin metal rod used for turning on and of water meters and waste valves.


The police agree on all of the above. However, it is what happened after Stephenson killed Browning that is the subject of controversy. Police claim Browning charged the officer. But, from what we can see on the dashcam, this is a clear fabrication.

As the video begins, Stephenson is seen rounding the front of his cruiser. The two exchange words as Browning threatens Stephenson and vice versa. However, at no point do we see anyone charge anyone. In fact, Browning was barely inching toward Stephenson when the officer opened fire.

At no point was a less than lethal option even considered by Stephenson in the video. At no point did Stephenson back up. For slowly walking toward a police officer with a thin metal rod, Browning was put to death by his judge, jury, and executioner — Lt. Daniel Stephenson.


Immediately after the killing in August, police investigators released a statement to the media claiming that a man ran at the officer. And since the investigation, no one in the media has questioned it — even as the video clearly shows it is false.

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An ‘investigation’ conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office found the use of deadly force by Lt. Daniel Stephenson was justified under T.C.A. § 39-11-620 for the following reasons:

  • Lt. Stephenson was wearing an ERPD uniform and operating a marked patrol car, which clearly identified him as a police officer.
  • Lt. Stephenson exhausted all reasonable means to apprehend Browning through a lengthy negotiation and repetitive commands prior to the use of deadly force.
  • Lt. Stephenson had probable cause to believe Browning posed a threat of serious bodily injury or death as Browning approached with a water main key while yelling that Lt. Stephenson would have to kill him or else he would kill Lt. Stephenson.

Apparently telling a clearly mentally ill man to ‘step back’ for approximately 45 seconds before putting four AR15 rounds in his chest is “exhaust(ing) all reasonable means to apprehend Browning through a lengthy negotiation.”

Sadly, what this case illustrates is the deadly training police in America are receiving. No one is claiming that Browning wasn’t posing a threat, but Stephenson is a cop — wearing body armor and armed to the teeth — and Browning had a plumber’s tool.

Courage, these days, is a word not fit for so many cops as true courage is not immediately resorting to deadly force because you perceive a threat. No, true courage is the preservation of life, even if it means you might get a little bruised up in the process.

Perhaps Stephenson was scared of losing his job for NOT killing Browning, as was the case with a cop in West Virginia. Weirton police officer Stephen Mader exhibited extreme bravery and restraint earlier this year when he chose not to kill a suicidal man. For displaying such courage and reserve, Mader’s department fired him.

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On May 6, 2016, Mader responded to a call about a domestic incident. When he showed up to the call, Mader confronted Ronald D. Williams Jr., 23, who was armed and in a diminished mental state.

Madar said that he began talking to the young man in his “calm voice.”

“I told him, ‘Put down the gun,’ and he’s like, ‘Just shoot me.’ And I told him, ‘I’m not going to shoot you brother.’ Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it.

“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and de-escalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop” situation.

Even after the 23-year-old father twitched his wrist and waved around the gun, Mader did not feel threatened enough to kill him. His restraint was nothing short of remarkable.

However, this restraint would be in vain. Just as Mader successfully began to diffuse and de-escalate the situation — backup arrived. The cops who showed up were not like Mader. As soon they got out of the vehicle, one of the cops immediately fired and shot Williams in the back of the head, killing him.

Another cop in Utah proved his heroism as well, and he faced a far more dangerous situation than Stephenson.

On New Year’s Eve of this year, 36-year-old Brandon Morgan was in the midst of an obvious mental breakdown and became suicidal. He armed himself with a machete and a blowtorch and scared his family to the point that they called police.

One of the officers responding to the call captured the interaction on his body cam, and it shows something amazing.

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As the officer enters the house, with his service pistol drawn, he is confronted by a man armed with a machete and a blowtorch. In 99.99 percent of incidents like this, police would have killed the man. It would be a blip on the news, and the ‘killed by police’ death toll tally would have rolled up another notch.

But these deaths are not always necessary. What the cop in the video below, and the numerous videos out of Europe, show us is that police don’t have to kill.

In the video, the officer came in contact with the armed man, he then made the choice to put his gun away and pull out his taser.

“He threatened the officer with a machete, officer Tased him, and then they drug him out of the house, and the house was engulfed in fire,” said Chief Doug Diamond of the West Jordan Police Department explaining what was captured on the officer’s body cam.

The officer’s decision to resort to a taser instead of his gun was a split second moment of logic. He knew that Morgan didn’t have to die for this situation to be put under control, and he acted with the appropriate force necessary to end the threat.

Because of the actions of this officer, Brandon Morgan will live to see his children again and possibly get the mental help that he needs to make a recovery.

Sadly, Browning will not get that chance.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • Donald Bezzina

    Watch your language please- that is very unbecoming of you. If you have an issue with what I said, then you could tell me why you think BLM is not a terrorist group.

  • itstherecit

    if you’re ever questioning yourself as to whether to call or think of a cop as a “pig”, try to remember this video…it would take me too much time to think of and type all the piggy adjectives that can describe him…but i hope you do

  • Leslie Braun

    No, those cops used their training

  • Wayne Brundrett

    If I were younger and had no responsibility, this Pig would not breath another bit of precious air.

  • Wayne Brundrett

    Maintaining my sanity after watching this. Be glad I do not live by this asshole of a person. I would end his life. He will do this again if confronted with a carrot in hand.

  • John

    Lets see guy is armed, guy says he is gonna kill cop, cop says stay where you are, guy advances yelling and threatening the cop while waving a 4 foot long piece of Re-Bar with t T on one end and a metal block on the other, guy gets shot. I see no issue here. You can say he is clearly mentally ill but he is not clearly mentally ill, he is clearly a threat. You can say he could have employed a taser, and maybe he could but #1 not all departments have tasers, #2 tasers are not 100% effective. If a less than lethal method was employed here and failed the suspect would have been on the officer before he could get off a shot (see the 21 foot rule), But all you highly trained monday morning quarterbacks know better =. I bet most of you have never even fired a weapon before.

  • John

    Shot to the leg LOL and where did you relieve your weapons training. The guy had a 4 foot long piece of Steel Re-Bar in his hand, you think you could disarm him in hand to hand combat or with a 12 inch long billy club? You must be God Damn Bruce Lee LOL.

  • John

    You are not right and I will explain why. Proper training is to shoot center mass. The reasons are first and foremost this is the largest target area and you are most likely to hit it. Second being the largest target there is less likelihood of a stray round. Most police in the US carry .40 Caliber hand guns a S&W .40 has about 457 foot pounds of energy and travels about 1100 feet per second and will travel for almost 8000 feet or over a mile. Now most police officers are not competition shooters and making that kind of shot puts the general public at risk. You clearly do not know what you are talking about.

  • John

    Of course we only get to see 1:17 of the tape LOL.

  • John

    There is a problem with de-escalation, it takes two for that dance and clearly the guy with the pipe wrench didn’t want to dance today.

  • Bluewarrior1975

    A thin metal rod? Lmao
    How about an iron 3 foot weapon.
    Play stupid games win stupid prizes

  • Steve Molnar

    Murdering scum, chickenshit coward, how is he a policeman?
    Jail for life. What, a man can’t argue withn the police?

  • Sgt. Killgood

    What was the purpose of the AR15 . Where is the tazer , This cop should be in jail for murder . There is nothing to investigate . It’s all right there on the video . Corruption is running wild in that police force .

  • captainsgirl

    Officer Daniel Stephenson is a cold blooded murderer. And everyone who defends him are complicit.

  • I’sDaLastSlave¥Charlie Smith¥

    ???The officer could have backed up around the car, and assess the situation before he uses an AR-15 to kill someone armed with water meter rod. If the officer had retreated, and the suspect kept coming towards him, after numerous commands of stay put, only then should lethal force should be used. The officer had several other options before using a gun. The officer could have used mace… could have used a taser. Could have waited a few more minutes. As slow as the suspect was moving towards the officer, the officer could have tazed him, without killing him… Hell, the officer could have shot him 1 time, to get the suspects attention, since he was armed with a small metal rod to the officers gun.???

    • Norm Koch

      No 5 months ago, and still no today. And in no way would any sane person consider that a small metal rod, or anything less than a deadly weapon. Have you held one in your hands? I have. One blow could easily kill a person.

  • RCG

    It’s interesting reading your justifications for this murder and your constant contradictions. You just finished saying that you shoot to stop a threat, implying that once the threat is neutralized, you’d stop using whatever force you were using. The video clearly showed 4 shots being fired. The guy was down after the first shot…..

  • Johnny Barnum

    Fight fire with fire,son

  • Johnny Barnum

    Their usually over weight slow,and tired from pulling back to back 12
    Hour shifts.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    Dayum..This mfka gets out car with a damn ASSAULT RIFFLE. ..not the tazer..not his service glock. Really i just came to see how many fuck wads condone this shit