TBI News Release by Josh DeVine
At the request of 13th District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, TBI Special Agents continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man while in the process of being arrested overnight by officers from the Cookeville Police Department.
Preliminary information indicates the incident occurred at approximatelymorning, when the Cookeville Police Department received a call alerting them to a man, identified as Richard Thomas Sparks (DOB 1-20-80), walking in the median of Interstate 40 near Mile Marker 288. When an officer arrived and made contact with Sparks, he became combative. A second officer arrived to assist, and the two were able to place Sparks on the ground in handcuffs. A short time later, however, Sparks became unresponsive. The two officers suspected an opioid overdose and administered a dose of naloxone, which was not successful in reviving Sparks. The officers then attempted to use a portable Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), which was also unsuccessful. Medics transported Sparks to Cookeville Regional Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him deceased.
TBI Agents gathered relevant information, interviews, and evidence at the scene early this morning in connection to this active and ongoing case. In turn, investigative findings will be submitted to the District Attorney General for his further review and consideration. As a reminder, the TBI acts as ‘fact-finders’ in its cases. The decision as to whether the actions of the officers were justified rests solely with the District Attorney General.
Per TBI policy, the agency will not identify the officers involved in this incident and will instead refer questions of that nature to their department.