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Lawmaker calls for better regulations on bounty hunters after Clarksville dad's murder

Suspects charged in Jalen Milan's death. (Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)

At least one influential state lawmaker says it's time for a change in the largely unregulated bounty hunter industry in Tennessee.

Last month, 24-year-old Jalen Milan was inside a car at a Clarksville Walmart when a group of bounty hunters rushed the car and started smashing the windows. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family said this happened "suddenly and without warning."

Shots are fired and Milan, a father of three, is killed. The bounty hunters are all charged with murder. Milan's family claims the bounty hunters mistakenly identified the father of two and shot him.

Last week, Fox 17 reported bounty hunting in Tennessee is a largely "unregulated" industry.

Bail bondsmen are empowered to hire or act as bounty hunters to bring in people who violate the terms of jail bonds, but they can't use deadly force unless its self defense. In Tennessee, only the bondsmen who hire the bounty hunters are licensed or regulated. The bounty hunters are not.

"When you have individuals acting almost as quasi-law enforcement that are intricately involved in the criminal justice system, they need to be licensed," said Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown.

Lamberth is a former state prosecutor and chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee. He said the Tennessee law regulating bounty hunters is only a page long and leaves most of the oversight to professional bail bonding companies which he says needs to change.

"The difference is they're not a governmental agency," Lamberth said. "They don't answer to the people they way that I do, the way that our state governmental agencies to. Our only interest is to ensure that our people are safe."

"They need to have more training in there," Buford Tune said.

Tune is a retired Metro Nashville Police Officer and owner of the Academy of Personal Protection. Part of his business is to train armed security officers like the ones seen at hospitals. He said bounty hunters need that same level of training at a minimum.

"Certification with certain kinds of defensive items: batons; sprays; tasers -- all this stuff should be there as a certification for them to carry, including the firearms," Tune said.

Tune thinks this type of certification would prevent a repeat of what happened in to Jalen Milan in Clarksville.

Rep. Lamberth sad he now has this issue on a short list of new regulations to consider up when state lawmakers go back to work early next year.

Jalen Milan's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit naming each of the seven bounty hunters charged in the case as well as the two bail bonding companies they worked for.

The men charged include: William L. Byles, 31; Kenneth Chiasson, 38; Antwon D. Keesee, 32; Jonathan Schnepp, 31; Roger D. West, 31; Prentice L. Williams, 34 and Joshua Young, 27.

Clarksville Police said a Montgomery County Grand Jury charged all seven men with first-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated assault, employing a firearm in commission of a dangerous felony and felony reckless endangerment.

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