Memphis police officer, 18-year-old suspect killed in shootout

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis police officer and an 18-year-old suspect died Friday morning in a shootout that left another teen suspect and two other police officers injured, Interim Police Chief C.J. Davis said.

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The slain officer was identified as Joseph McKinney, who had joined the police department in 2020.

“We have a family that’s grieving now. We have a wife that’s grieving now. We have the family of the suspects that are grieving now,” Davis said at a news conference Friday. “As a community, we have to do better. We have to, you know, ensure that parents know where our young people are at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

The shooting happened after police got a call about a suspicious vehicle around 2 a.m. Davis said that when officers went to check out the vehicle, the people inside — an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old — opened fire.

Officers returned fire, and the teens took off. They drove for a short while before the vehicle stopped again and one of the teens was taken into custody. The second teen ran from the vehicle, but he was found nearby and taken into custody as well, Davis said.

In addition to McKinney, two other officers were injured. One was upgraded to non-critical condition by Friday morning and Davis said he was “doing well.” The other officer was grazed by gunfire and treated for minor injuries at the scene.

The teens were taken to a hospital in critical condition, and the 18-year-old later died of his wounds. The police chief said both had “sustained gunfire.”

Neither teen was identified.

Memphis Mayor Paul Young said he was “heartbroken of the lives lost.”

“We know that we as a community have to do more to hold violent offenders accountable for their actions, even our young people,” he said. “We have to make sure that we are pressing for accountability.”

Davis said police arrested the 18-year-old last month after finding him in a stolen vehicle with an “illegal modified semi-automatic weapon with a Glock switch attached” that converted the weapon “into a fully automatic machine gun.” He was charged in connection with two stolen vehicles and for having a device often used to steal cars, the police chief said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing the shooting,