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Use of force in officer-involved shooting in Lynchburg deemed justifiable

Bethany Harrison, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lynchburg, has ruled that the use of force against a suspect in an officer-involved shooting is justifiable, with no criminal charges warranted.

“I find that M. Donellan, J. Massie, and R. Shelton’s use of deadly force was not excessive and came from an immediate threat to themselves and other officers,” Harrison said in the report.

She continued saying, “Officers M. Donellan, J. Massie, and R. Shelton’s actions were not excessive and were reasonable in relation to the perceived threat to themselves and other officers.”

As we’ve reported previously, in December of 2022, officers tried to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle that nearly hit two pedestrians in the area of Main Street; however, the driver, later identified as Jonathan Poe, refused to stop and led the officers on a car chase.

In the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s report, Harrison notes that the vehicle had been driving upwards of 50 mph in a 25 mph zone and when officers tried to stop Poe, he sped up and went through a red light at 5th St. and Main Street. The report says he swerved onto Rivermont Avenue and was driving at speeds of over 30 mph above the posted speed limit.

The vehicle pursuit ended with the suspect crashing into a parked vehicle on Memorial Avenue, authorities said. Not long after, Poe began firing a gun at Officers M. Donellan, J. Massie and R. Shelton, according to the report. That’s when officers returned fire and struck the suspect during the exchange.

Authorities say that when officers continued to call for Poe to stop and put his hands up, he fired more rounds, and the rounds of fire continued until Poe stopped shooting. In the end, an armored vehicle was utilized so that officers could safely approach Poe. He was treated at the scene by officers and transported to Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment of critical injuries. He recovered from his injuries and was taken to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

“In making my determination, I reviewed reports provided by the Virginia State Police (VSP) who investigated the matter, body worn camera (BWC) footage of the event, reports prepared by LPD and other agency officers, photographs of the scene, crime scene documentation, medical records for Jonathon Poe, and interviews of involved parties including M. Donellan, J. Massie, and R. Shelton,” Harrison said.

You can read the entire report below:

Report Use of Force Memorial Ave Dec. 31 2022 J Poe by Jazmine Otey on Scribd

Source: WSLS News 10

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