Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree took questions Thursday about the Monday night shooting near Sanger, where one of his deputies shot and killed a man.
After days of announced and scrapped news conferences about the shooting, Murphree said on Thursday the Denton Police Department would be the only agency reviewing the Denton County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the shooting, somewhat of a departure on what has been done in other recent officer-involved shootings.
The Texas Rangers are routinely the oversight in officer-involved shooting investigations throughout the state. When a Denton County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a man in Lantana in June, the Rangers investigated that officer-involved shooting.
Murphree said Thursday he caught criticism for having the Rangers conduct that review because he was a Ranger earlier in his career. It appeared to some, he said, that the Rangers were not a neutral-enough agency to play a role.
When a deputy shot and killed Kristopher Scott Adams, 37, on Monday night, Murphree said he asked Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon for his department to investigate the shooting and forward its findings to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office.
“The Denton Police Department is just as capable of conducting that review as the Rangers,” Murphree said over the phone Thursday.
Murphree said the internal affairs division of his office will conduct a separate investigation into whether the deputy in the Sanger shooting violated any Denton County Sheriff’s Office policies in shooting Adams. No other police agency will have any oversight in that, he said.
The deputy, whose name the sheriff’s office has declined to release, was placed on administrative leave this week, which Murphree said was standard in any case wherein a deputy shoots and kills a person.
Adams, the man killed, was running from deputies when he was shot, according to initial reports. Adams allegedly had a handgun in his right hand and pointed it back at the officers as he ran from them. Murphree said deputies were also running toward Adams, so Adams was in the middle of multiple deputies converging on him at once.
The unnamed deputy fired at Adams and struck him. Murphree would not say Thursday where exactly Adams was struck. Adams died at Medical City Denton about an hour after he was shot, records show.
“I’m gonna wait on the autopsy to determine all that,” Murphree said.
The sheriff’s office was initially slow to release information about the shooting. A formal news release — a written statement from an entity that gives a public briefing about a high-profile issue — was not released by the sheriff’s office until Wednesday. Two news conferences — which have greater value to the public than releases because they allow for in-person, follow-up questions — were announced and then canceled on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s not that we’re trying to hold back information,” Murphree said. “I don’t want to have to come back or backtrack on something we’ve said or released.”