Tenn. story about badge stopping bullet could be fake
Authorities are investigating the officer after rumors that the story was false
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local, state, and federal authorities are investigating a report by an Oakland police officer that his badge stopped the bullet when he was shot during a traffic stop on Christmas Eve.
The Oakland Police Department has asked the Fayette County Sheriff's Department to help investigate rumors that the shooting was faked, Insp. Raymond Garcia, sheriff's department spokesman, said Thursday.
"We're assisting with it," Garcia said. "You are going to have to investigate any time you have something like this."
Joshua Smith , an Oakland officer for about nine months, reported that when he pulled over a gray or green Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban on U.S. 64, the driver of the vehicle shot him in the chest, after a passenger in the vehicle swung a knife at him.
The vehicle bore out-of-date drive-out tags, he said.
Smith told his superiors that his badge stopped the bullet, which ricocheted out through his shirt.
He was taken to an area hospital, but was not seriously injured.
The officer's vest and shirt have been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lab for tests. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also taken control of some items, Garcia said.
Residue from the shirt and vest could possibly be matched to a particular shell casing or gun.
"It should be able to tell us something," Garcia said.
The Oakland department had just issued heavier-gauge badges than had been used previously.
Oakland Chief Keith Hogwood said at the time that he believed the badge may have saved Smith's life.
Neither Hogwood nor Smith could be reached Thursday night.
Copyright 2010 Commercial Appeal