Axe-wielding Woman Shot by Tennessee Police Dies

By Faye Higbee

Axe-wielding Woman Shot by Tennessee Police Dies

Gallatin, Tennessee – Gallatin Police Department released body cam and dash cam video on Thursday of an incident from Wednesday “in the interests of transparency.” A black woman  injured a Sumner County Deputy, Gary Pickard,  as he attempted to serve eviction papers, and then advanced on a backup police officer with an ax.

Screenshot from police vest camera

Axe-wielding woman

Three officers responded to Pickard’s call for help. Gallatin officer James Spray was first to arrive. In the dash cam video from the second backup officer and the body cam footage from Spray’s vest,  Laronda Sweatt, 40, refuses to drop her weapon and continues to advance toward him after being told several times to drop it and get on the ground.


The axe carried by Laronda Sweatt – police photo

The incident began at shortly before 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Tennessean reported,

A preliminary investigation revealed that before the shooting, Sumner County Sheriff’s Office deputy Gary Pickard accompanied several members of the local housing authority to the home to serve an eviction notice when they encountered Sweatt.

At some point Sweatt became combative with Pickard and injured him, according to Niland. Sweatt was wielding an ax, according to a news release issued by Gallatin police. The deputy then ran back to his patrol vehicle and called for backup.

Three Gallatin Police Department officers arrived and were confronted by Sweatt, who was still in possession of the ax, the release said.

“As (Sweatt) continued advancing and making aggressive movement with the ax toward our officer, Officer Spray fired two shots, striking Sweatt both times,” the release said.

Officer Spray has been place on administrative leave pending the investigation.


Laronda Sweatt – family photo

 Family response

The usual family response is that the video was “edited” to only show what the police want you to see.  They complained that the “sweet,caring” mother  was “pushed too far.”

“Laronda was a very sweet, caring person until you pushed her. Laronda wasn’t violent unless you made her violent. She was a good mother, she took good care of her child. Her and I had our ups and downs, but she was my only child out of five, and I love Laronda dearly.”  Sweatt’s mother to WKRN

All of that is irrelevant when someone threatens a police officer with an axe.