CPD officer's attorney: Officer "did not discharge his service weapon unintentionally"

The attorney of a Chattanooga police officer says that despite previous reports calling it an accident, her client intentionally shot a man who had just killed himself. (Images: CPD, WTVC)

The attorney of a Chattanooga police officer says her client intentionally shot a man who had just committed suicide - directly contradicting a previous police report claiming it was an accident.

The Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) says officers responded Sunday morning to a situation at the Cross Creek Villas involving a man threatening to commit suicide with a gun.

According to attorney Janie Varnell of David & Hoss, P.C., Officer Brian Cottell followed his extensive training in hostage negotiations and tried to talk the man into dropping the weapon.

The CPD report says the man did not follow officers' orders, and then shot and killed himself. That is when CPD says the officer fired his gun three times, striking the man's body with one of the bullets.

The CPD report says that the firing of the gun was an accident - the attorney's statement disputes this.

“Contrary to previous reports, Officer Cottell did not discharge his service weapon unintentionally," the statement reads. "He did not accidentally shoot a man who was deceased. He purposefully discharged his weapon to protect himself and other officers as he was trained to do in these types of situations.”

The statement continues that Cottell, standing about 15 feet away from the man, fired at almost the same time as the man did.

Varnell says Officer Cottell has a 20-year career in law enforcement, is a military veteran, and has extensive training in critical incidents involving suicidal parties, hostage negotiations, and high-intensity situations.

We've reached out to the Chattanooga Police Department for comment on this statement.

Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.

You can read the full attorney statement below: (Reading this on our mobile app? Tap here to open an external browser to read the full attorney statement.)

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