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Commonwealth Attorney Declares Prince William Officers ‘Justified’ in Dec. 10 ‘Officer-Involved Shooting’

| December 28, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Amy Ashworth newly elected Commonwealth Attorney.

Prince William Commonwealth Attorney Amy Ashworth determined five Prince William County Officers were “justified” in firing rounds that killed Kurtis Kay Frevert, 79, of Dumfries on Dec. 10, saying they acted in self-defense.

The encounter occurred outside the man’s home in Dumfries, on the 3600 block of Secret Grove Court.

That evening Prince William Police had responded to a 911 from the Frevert’s wife in which she said he was suicidal. Officers fired rounds at Mr. Frevert, after he turned a gun on them.

“When officers arrived at the home, the husband had left the residence and was reportedly on foot with the handgun in the community. Officers requested helicopter assistance from Fairfax County police to aid in the search,” reported Sgt. Jonathan Perok, the night of Dec. 10.

“Members of the Crisis Intervention Team and Co-Responder Unit were on scene. As officers were searching for the husband, the helicopter located him in a nearby wooded area where he was seen walking back towards the residence,” wrote Perok in a police report. “Officers encountered the husband near the front door of the residence, still armed with the handgun.”

In a letter to Lt. Col. Jarad Phelps on Dec. 24, and released to media on Dec. 28, Ashworth explained that according to the law, the officers acted in “self-defense,” as Frevert had pointed a gun at them and yelled “shoot me!”

“The deceased’s actions in walking toward the officers with his arm raised and a gun in his hand aimed at the Officers left the Officers no alternative but to use deadly force,” said Ashworth. “Accordingly, I find that the use of deadly force was both justified and reasonable under the circumstances of this tragic encounter.”

Ashworth explains she arrived at her decision after reviewing thousands of pieces of evidence. She concluded that since the deceased had raised his gun towards the officers, and it was thus reasonable for them to assume they were in mortal danger.

“In this incident, the danger posed by the decedent was real. Having the benefit of bodyworn camera footage, video footage from FX2 helicopter, and forensic collection at the scene, it is clear that the Officers apprehended imminent bodily harm as the subject raised his gun at the Officers while walking towards them and saying, ‘Shoot me,’” Ashworth wrote.

“Each of the Officers expressed that they believed either they, individually, were in danger of being killed or that the other officers present were in danger of being shot or killed.”

During the investigation, Ashworth and her team examined 1207 items uploaded to Evidence.com, including 911 calls, police dispatch records, radio traffic. They reviewed 900 photographs, information from the medical examiner’s office, crime scene reports and video from body-worn camera footage from nine officers, plus video footage taken by the Fairfax County Police helicopters. Finally, they interviewed family members of the deceased.

Perok reported that officers rendered aid to the man and immediately requested medical assistance. No officers were injured during the incident.

Following the incident, the Perok said the officers were placed on routine paid leave.

Today, Perok announced that the investigation into the police-involved shooting has been completed and the department released the names of the officers involved.

The officers involved in the shooting were identified as;

  • Sergeant James Krisner, age 35, assigned to the Eastern Patrol District within the Operations Division as an evening shift patrol supervisor with approximately 13 years of service
  • Master Police Officer Shaun Barrett, age 37, assigned to the Special Operations Bureau within the Operations Division as a K-9 officer with approximately 14 years of service
  • Officer Adam Beard, age 32, assigned to the Personnel Bureau within the Support Services Division as an officer on the Co-Responder Unit with approximately 6 years of service
  • Officer Ravinder Mehta, age 36, assigned to the Eastern Patrol District within the Operations Division as an evening shift patrol officer with approximately 6 years of service
  • Officer Ivan Torres, age 33, assigned to the Eastern Patrol District within the Operations Division as an evening shift patrol officer with approximately 4 years of service

The following is the article Commonwealth Attorney Ashworth sent to Lt. Col. Jarad Phelps.

December 24, 2020

Lt. Col. Jarad Phelps

Prince William County Police Department

5036 Davis Ford Road

Woodbridge, Virginia 22192

Re: Officer Involved shooting, PD 200033748

Dear Lt. Col. Phelps,

At 9:34 p.m. on December 10, 2020 the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office was notified that an officer involved shooting had occurred in the Four Seasons community of Prince William County. We were notified that the deceased was a seventy-nine (79) year old resident of the 3600 block of Secret Grove Court and that there were potentially five officers involved in the shooting. This Office immediately instituted and coordinated an Incident Response Team independent of any investigation that the Police William County Police Department was conducting. This team was made up of myself, my Chief Deputy Kristina L. Robinson and Deputy W. Michael Phipps. Over the course of the last two weeks, we have reviewed all accessible investigative information.

The sources of information available to us include 1207 items uploaded to Evidence.com, the evidence sharing website utilized by the County, police reports and call-for-service data contained in the Premier One records keeping system that is used by the Prince William County Police Department. Recordings of the 911 call and radio traffic as well as the police dispatch records (CADS) were reviewed. Over 900 photographs were viewed that document the evidence collected in and around the subject house as well as the residence to the immediate right of the house, photographs of all officers present at the time of the shooting, photos of evidence collected from their persons, i.e. firearms and shield, and photos taken of the deceased at both Sentara hospital and the Office of the Medical Examiner. Crime scene reports and an evidence collection list were compared to photographs and body-worn camera footage. Body-worn camera footage from all nine officers present on scene as well as the video footage taken by the FX2 police helicopter were extensively reviewed. We reviewed each of the audio recorded interviews of the officers and co-responders done by the police detectives in the early morning hours of December 11th as well as the follow up interviews completed on the following Tuesday,

Finally, we reviewed all communications with the deceased’s family members and conducted an independent consultation with the wife and the eldest son on Tuesday, December 23, 2020.

We are currently preparing a full report detailing our factual findings. While that is forthcoming, I have completed my review of the incident and legal analysis and am writing to you today to share the conclusion of that review and analysis so that you make take whatever action you deem appropriate for your department.

As you are no doubt aware, the law of “self-defense,” as well as the “defense of others,” is a law of necessity and analyzed under the same body of law. A person who reasonably apprehends imminent bodily harm by another to himself or others is privileged to exercise reasonable force to repel the assault. Humphreys v. Commonwealth, 37 Va. App 36, 553 S.E.2d 546 (2001). There must be some overt act indicative of imminent danger at the time. Commonwealth v. Sands, 262 Va. 724, 553 S.E.2d 733 (2001). It is not essential to the right of self-defense that the danger should in fact exist. If it reasonably appears to the person using “deadly force” that a danger to life exists, he has the right to defend against it to the same extent, and under the same rules, as would obtain if the danger had been real. McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 248 S.E.2d 808 (1978).

In this incident, the danger posed by the decedent was real. Having the benefit of bodyworn camera footage, video footage from FX2 helicopter, and forensic collection at the scene, it is clear that the Officers apprehended imminent bodily harm as the subject raised his gun at the Officers while walking towards them and saying, “Shoot me.” Each of the Officers expressed that they believed either they, individually, were in danger of being killed or that the other officers present were in danger of being shot or killed. The decedent’s actions in walking toward the officers with his arm raised and a gun in his hand aimed at the Officers left the Officers no alternative but to use deadly force. Accordingly, I find that the use of deadly force was both justified and reasonable under the circumstances.

Very truly yours,

Amy Ashworth

 

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