MOBILE, Ala (WALA) – Mobile Police officers were in the middle of a drug operation in the RV Taylor community when they were shot at by a suspect Thursday night, police say.
Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste said investigators turned their blue lights on to get Andrew Mitchell and Johnny Vail to comply with them, but that is when the situation got out of control.
“There's a lot of uncertainty anytime any of our officers go anywhere in particular when you're talking about a narcotics operation or undercover operation,” he said.
Mobile Police said Vail and Mitchell ran when officers tried to talk to them.
Police then said Mitchell pulled out a gun and started shooting. Police returned fire hitting Mitchell.
“He fired at officers,” Battiste said. “There were three officers in the vehicle that he fired at and potentially he could have taken the lives of all three of them.”
Vail was also hit, but he ran off and barricaded himself inside a nearby apartment.
After a standoff that lasted nearly two hours, Vail gave up peacefully.
The officer who opened fire is on paid administrative leave while internal affairs investigates. That is standard procedure in a case like this.
“I think looking at the totality of the circumstances it looks like there was some level of justification for the action that was taken at the time,” Battiste said.
Police said one of the two guns recovered came back as stolen, they are still trying to figure out if the other one was as well.
Thursday's incident was the second officer involved shooting in the city this year.
“Our first resort is to not shoot them,” Battiste said. “Our first resort is “hey” can we get some level of compliance.”
Police have not formally named the officer who returned fire, but the chief said the officer is a veteran of the MPD force.
As for the suspects, they are both expected to survive. Vail is locked up at metro. Mitchell is at the hospital and police hope to charge him with attempted murder.