Widow of Hoss angry over how police handled the situation

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   "He was a wonderful man, a wonderful father and a wonderful husband. He didn't deserve to die like that." That is how Teresa Hoss, the widow of Michael David Hoss who was shot and killed almost a week ago by police officers, described her husband.
   According to Carter County Sheriff John Henson officers with the Carter County Sheriff's Department responded to the Hoss' residence at 189 Hilton Hill Road around 10:30 Monday night on a domestic violence call. Mrs. Hoss states however, that it was not a domestic violence situation. "I called 911 for them to come out and help my husband, not that he was going to hurt me or anyone else," she said.
   Mr. Hoss, who was 55, had served in the military and was a Vietnam Veteran. According to Mrs. Hoss, he suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of his military service. He was also on several medications for various health conditions, some related to his military service.
   While he was in Vietnam, Mr. Hoss was injured in an attack on his platoon and lost almost all of his hearing, according to his widow. She said that if you talked to him in an even, steady voice he could hear conversation but he could not understand things said over loudspeakers or public address systems.
   One of the medications Mr. Hoss was on, if mixed with alcohol, could lead to suicidal thoughts, according to Mrs. Hoss, who added that her husband had consumed alcohol earlier in the day.
   As part of his PTSD, Mr. Hoss would often have what Mrs. Hoss described as "flashbacks" to being in the war in Vietnam. On the night he died, Mr. Hoss was having a flashback, according to his widow.
   "He got up a little after 10 (p.m.). He was frantic and talking about Vietnam," she said, adding that he began fumbling through drawers and the closet as if he were looking for something. "I saw what he was doing -- looking for the shotgun -- so I grabbed it and hid it under the bed."
   Despite her effort to hide the gun from her husband, Mr. Hoss eventually found the firearm. "He went outside and fired one shot up in the air," Mrs. Hoss said as she fought back tears, adding that he had made remarks about killing himself. "I called 911 because I was afraid he was going to blow his head off. I wish I had never called 911 now."
   Mrs. Hoss said that she and her 6-year-old daughter were outside the house when police arrived. She said that when the police got there, her husband had laid the shotgun he had been carrying on the front porch and had went inside their home.
   "I told them 'He's not going to hurt anybody,'" she said, adding that she told police that her husband had not threatened anyone and she had called because she was afraid he may try to harm himself. "The gun laid on my porch for 15 minutes. I was begging for them to let me get the gun off the porch and they wouldn't let me and they didn't even try to get the gun."
   Mrs. Hoss stated that she told police officers on the scene that her husband had been drinking and was having a flashback about Vietnam. She said she also told them about his hearing problem and how he could not understand them when they used their bull horns to talk to him.
   Officers on the scene then told Mrs. Hoss that she and her daughter would have to leave the area for their safety, according to Mrs. Hoss. "They put us in their car to take us away and my daughter was crying. She was screaming 'Please don't kill my Daddy. Please don't kill my Daddy,'" Mrs. Hoss said.
   At that time, police drove Mrs. Hoss and her daughter down the road to a local store. "The minute we got out of the car down the road we heard a gun shot go off and my baby asked me 'Did they kill my Daddy?" Mrs. Hoss said as tears rolled down her face. "I have not even told my baby that her Daddy is dead. I told her he is at the hospital.
   "I don't have the heart to tell her. This man was our life. He retired from his job when she was born to take care of her because we didn't want to put her in daycare."
   Mrs. Hoss stated that she felt the law enforcement officers handled the situation wrong. "I'm just very angry with the way they handled that," she said. "The 911 dispatchers need to be better trained. The whole system is just messed up."
   According to Mrs. Hoss, some individuals who live next door to her told her that they saw the whole incident after police had removed Mrs. Hoss and her daughter from the scene. Mrs. Hoss said that the neighbors told her that her husband had gone outside onto the front porch, retrieved the gun and had then walked through the residence and onto the back porch to smoke a cigarette.
   The neighbors then told Mrs. Hoss that officers had surrounded the house and when Mr. Hoss heard someone outside he walked off the porch, holding the shotgun by the barrel and dragging the stock of the gun on the ground. As Mr. Hoss started walking in one direction in the yard, he apparently heard one of the officers behind him and turned around quickly, according to what the neighbors told Mrs. Hoss, and that is when he was shot. The neighbors told Mrs. Hoss that her husband had not raised the gun toward any of the officers as Henson had reported to members of the media at a press conference the day after Mr. Hoss was shot and killed.
   "I want justice for my husband's death," Mrs. Hoss said.
   According to District Attorney General Joe Crumley, an investigation into the incident has been opened by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. "Since it was an officer involved in the shooting, I called the TBI and they assigned an officer to the case," Crumley said on Tuesday, adding that after the TBI investigation is complete he will present it to the grand jury for review.
   In addition to her anger over how the situation was handled, Mrs. Hoss said she is also angry about the way law enforcement officers portrayed her husband when speaking with members of the media in stating that they were responding to a domestic violence call. "He has never laid a finger on me," she said. "He never even spanked my two children. To my knowledge he has never hit anyone. He has never been violent."
   Henson told the Elizabethton Star on Tuesday that to his knowledge Sheriff's Department deputies had never been called to the Hoss' residence before on reports of domestic violence.
   Mrs. Hoss stated that she does not want people in the community to think that her husband was a bad person or that he had in any way abused his family. "I just want people to know what happened to my husband," Mrs. Hoss said. "He was having flashbacks and was under the influence of alcohol and a lot of medication."
   Mr. Hoss was a gentle person, according to Mrs. Hoss.
   After he received a medical discharge from the military after being injured in Vietnam, Mr. Hoss decided to go to college and attended East Tennessee State University for a time but dropped out of school after a professor called him a "baby killer" for his participation in the war in Vietnam.
   "He always felt like he was unworthy to go to Heaven because he had killed people but a preacher talked to him and told him that he couldn't help what had happened in war time," Mrs. Hoss said, adding that in 1996 her husband had "received salvation."