It was just after midnight on April 23, 2017, when seven bounty hunters and bondsmen cornered their suspect’s vehicle in the dimly lit parking lot of a Clarksville, Tennessee Walmart. As the men surrounded the Nissan sedan they had been tracking, gunfire erupted while they attempted to serve an arrest warrant to their suspect.
According to the 911 call about the incident, the men insisted that the suspects had fired first. Two of the four believed suspects had been hit while the Nissan fled the parking lot. The seven men piled back into their vehicles and began to chase the Nissan, ramming it several times in the process. When they finally caught up to the men they believed were their suspects, one man, identified as Jalen Johnson, was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver had been injured.
When paramedics and police arrived at the scene, it was discovered that not only had the men in the Nissan not been the suspects the bounty hunters had been looking for but the men were unarmed.
William L. Byles, Kenneth Chiasson, Antwon D. Keesee, Jonathan Schnepp, Roger D. West, Prentice L. Williams, and Joshua Young were indicted by the grand jury for the shooting death of Johnson. The indictment states that the bondsmen had attempted to unlawfully imprison Johnson by holding up their handguns. The men then killed Johnson while perpetrating a kidnapping and had caused him to suffer injuries which resulted in the father of three’s death.
The seven men have all received 15 charges in connection to Johnson’s death which include: first-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, three additional counts of aggravated assault, employing firearms in commission of a dangerous felony, and felony reckless endangerment. A $300,000 bond has been set for their release.
Johnson’s cousin told The Leaf-Chronicle, “He can’t get out of the casket, so they shouldn’t be able to get out on bond. He was 24 and healthy as a tree and now he’s dead and gone.”
Tennessee state law states that bondsmen are able to carry firearms while on duty, however, the use of deadly force is prohibited except for the purpose of self-defense. Bondsmen are not considered law enforcement and therefore are bound by the same concealed carry laws that private citizens must adhere to.
The investigation into this case is ongoing while the seven bounty hunters await trial.