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KPD Announces Six Officers and One Civilian as January Commendation Recipients 
The Knoxville Police Department is pleased to announce its January 2020 commendations. Due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the KPD chose not to host a public ceremony to present these commendations, instead opting for a private recognition of those selected to receive awards. 

Six officers were picked by the Commendations and Awards Committee to receive the January Officer of the Month Award, while one employee was tabbed to receive the January Civilian of the Month Award.

Officers Jason Lay and Brian Mason 

Officers Jason Lay and Brian Mason were both selected to receive the January Officer of the Month commendation due to their teamwork and follow-through, which resulted in a sizeable interdiction of dangerous drugs.

On Friday, January 17 at 12:30 p.m., Officer Jason Lay was dispatched to a crash on Western Avenue near Texas Avenue. A witness reported that an individual in one of the vehicles placed a plastic bag behind a truck in an adjacent parking lot and then walked away from the crash carrying a FedEx box. Upon hearing the suspicious nature of the call, Officer Brian Mason responded as well. Officer Lay responded to the scene of the crash to collect more information, while Officer Mason set out in search of the subject who left the scene.

Officers spotted the subject, later identified as an 18-year-old male, walking on Badgett Drive near California Road. The subject was still carrying the box. The subject sat the box down on the sidewalk and walked away upon seeing officers. Realizing the potential that the box contained contraband, Officers Lay and Mason called for a K-9 sniff and Organized Crime Unit assistance. Following a positive K-9 alert and continued OCU investigation, the box was found to contain approximately five pounds of crystal meth.

Officer Christopher Brooks

Officer Christopher Brooks was selected to receive the January Officer of the Month Award for his thorough follow up and assistance in an investigation that led to the speedy arrest of a violent suspect.

On January 28 at around 6:30 p.m., officers responded to 1100 Lula Powell Drive on a domestic-related stabbing. The female victim had been stabbed multiple times by her boyfriend and was in serious condition. Additionally, the victim had been held in the apartment for a prolonged period before making it into the hallway to scream for help.

Officer Brooks responded to the UT Medical Center to complete the initial investigation, and then coordinated his efforts with Investigator Shaun Sakovich with the Special Crimes Unit. After warrants were placed on file, Officer Brooks and additional units attempted to find the suspect at two locations. Officer Brooks then suggested that officers return to the victim’s apartment. Upon arrival and knocking on the door, the suspect was heard inside. He exited the apartment and surrendered to Officer Brooks and Investigator Sakovich. The suspect, 53-year-old James Howard, had attempted to clean the crime scene and changed clothes. Howard was charged with Attempted First Degree Murder and Especially Aggravated Kidnapping.

Officers J.D. Hopkins, Austin McCoy and Luis Vazquez

Officers J.D. Hopkins, Austin McCoy and Luis Vazquez were the final January Officer of the Month selections, earning the commendation for their excellent observation skills, perseverance and teamwork that led to the successful apprehension of a violent suspect.

In early January, night shift officers Hopkins, Vazquez and McCoy were given a bulletin in regards to subjects wanted for questioning for a double homicide that occurred in December at the Rocky Top Apartments. The subjects were all believed to be armed and had extensive histories with the police. Throughout the night of January 2, the officers searched several locations and continued to gather additional information. Eventually, the officers were able to determine that one of the subjects, 16-year-old Isaiah Grigsby, was possibly located at a residence on Irwin Street.

Officers were deployed to maintain a perimeter around the house, while day shift officers were called in for assistance to conduct a knock and talk. After all other occupants exited the house without incident and officers cleared the residence, it was determined that a subject believed to be Grigsby was hiding in the attic of the house. Following numerous attempts to get Grigsby to exit the attic and comply with officers, the suspect came down and was taken into custody.

Following questioning, Grigsby was charged with a runaway petition, two counts of 1st Degree Murder and two counts of Especially Aggravated Robbery.

ICAC Forensic Examiner Shannon Morris

Internet Crimes Against Children Certified Forensic Examiner Shannon Morris was selected as the January Civilian of the Month for her effort and success in locating suspects who distribute, possess, produce and receive child sex abuse material. She was also praised for her passionate dedication to the job, positive attitude and motivation to catch child predators.

On one occasion, Morris and a KPD investigator followed up on a tip and personally examined the devices seized following a search warrant. Morris quickly identified that a mother and her husband were sexually assaulting their children, ranging from five months to four years old. The resulting arrests likely preserved the lives of four children and proved to be one of the biggest cases ever handled by the ICAC unit, thanks in large part to Morris’ quick and careful work in examining the evidence.
Posted by serland On 27 July, 2020 at 2:51 PM