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Pendleton officer legally justified in shooting suspect outside Anderson gas station, prosecutor says

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Posted at 5:21 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 17:24:31-04

ANDERSON — An officer-involved shooting outside of an Anderson gas station last week has been ruled legally justified by the Madison County Prosecutor's Office.

According to the office, Officer Jerry Branson of the Pendleton Police Department was justified in shooting a suspect on May 7th.

As we previously reported, Officer Branson initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle of interest from an earlier Pendleton Police Department investigation.

The vehicle, a black Mercedes sedan, pulled into the GetGo gas station at 2500 Broadway St.

According to court documents, Officer Branson approached the vehicle that was occupied by two people, a 23-year-old woman in the driver's seat and Ross Morelock, 39, in the passenger seat.

At the time of the incident, Morelock had three active warrants for his arrest including, one for nonsupport of a dependent child and two warrants for dealing in methamphetamine.

During the traffic stop, Officer Branson instructed the two to exit the vehicle. Court records state he gave Morelock several verbal commands to keep his hands where he could see them.

At some point, Morelock reached for his firearm and pointed it at Officer Branson.

A 10-second-long exchange of gunfire ensued where Officer Branson fired four rounds and Morelock fired six rounds.

Officer branson was grazed in his shoulder, which left a 1-inch long surface wound and punctured a hole in his shirt.

According to court documents, Morelock then got out of the vehicle and shot himself. He was transported to the hospital where he remains in critical condition.

The Madison County Prosecutor's Office found that Officer Branson was justified in firing at Morelock because he pointed a gun at him.

Documents state when Morelock recovers, he will be formally charged with several charges, including attempted murder, a level 1 felony.

The woman in the vehicle, will be investigated for her involvement in the incident on May 7th as well as any involvement in the previous criminal investigation.