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Commonwealth Attorney Rules Manassas City Officer-Involved Shooting Justified

| May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments | News

Luis Torrres-Molina police photo, May 23, 2017.

Submitted by Prince William County Police 

Prince William and Manassas Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert ruled that Manassas City Officers were justified in using lethal force in regard to the May 19 shooting at George Hellwig Memorial Park.

The investigation into the Manassas City officer-involved shooting that occurred at George Hellwig Memorial Park in Manassas on May 19 has been completed. Detectives from the Prince William County Police Department’s Violent Crimes Bureau conducted the criminal investigation into the shooting aspect of this incident.

The investigation was reviewed by the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office for a determination of criminal liability concerning the officers’ actions. In the interest of keeping the communities of Prince William County and Manassas City informed of significant incidents, further details of that incident and the Commonwealth Attorney’s ruling are being publicly released.

May 19, 2017 at 12:40 a.m., the Prince William County Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC) received a 9-1-1 call from someone reporting that a suspect was firing a weapon from a vehicle in the area of Grant Avenue in the City of Manassas. Upon learning the incident was occurring in Manassas City, the call was immediately transferred to their dispatch for police response. The caller provided a description of the vehicle involved as a black Ford Explorer with tinted windows.

Responding Manassas City police officers located the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop. The driver of the alleged suspect vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated, which eventually entered Prince William County.

Prince William County police were notified of the pursuit at approximately 1:09 a.m. During the pursuit, a Manassas City police cruiser was struck by the fleeing vehicle.*

The pursuit continued to George Hellwig Memorial Park, located at 14420 Bristow Rd in Manassas, where the driver struck a tree and light post. The vehicle continued to a parking lot where the driver exited, leaving the vehicle in motion. During a confrontation with Manassas City officers, the driver brandished a weapon and pointed that weapon towards the officers. Two of the Manassas City police officers on scene fired their department issued firearms towards the driver. The driver was struck multiple times to the upper and lower body. No Manassas City officers were injured during the pursuit or shooting.

Prince William County officers were not involved in the pursuit and arrived on scene shortly after the shooting. Officers from both agencies rendered aid to the driver until Fire and Rescue personnel arrived. The driver was flown to an area hospital with serious injuries.

A firearm was recovered at the scene and was determined to be a BB-gun. A 15-year-old female juvenile was inside the vehicle at the time of the incident and was unharmed. The juvenile was later determined to be a runaway from the Woodbridge area and was reunited with her family.

During a preliminary review of the original 9-1-1 call made to Prince William County PSCC, detectives learned that the driver involved in the pursuit actually placed the initial shots fired call prompting the police response by Manassas City police. During the call, the driver also provided a description of his own vehicle. No actual shooting was determined to have taken place in Manassas City.

Due to the location of the officer-involved shooting, the Prince William County Police Department assumed responsibility for investigating the criminal aspect of the shooting.

The driver was identified as Luis Daniel Torres Molina, 18, of Woodbridge and was charged by Manassas City police with one count of attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and one count of felony eluding. The accused has since been treated and remanded to the custody of the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center with a preliminary court date set for July 17, 2017.

Upon reviewing the details of the shooting investigation involving the two Manassas City police officers, Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Paul Ebert, ruled the shooting was justified. Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert stated, “In my opinion, the officers involved were in reasonable fear of death or serious harm when they used lethal force and therefore their actions were justified “

Manassas City Police Chief Doug Keen commented, “While our formal Internal Affairs investigation reviewing all aspects of this case is ongoing, it is clear from the investigations conducted by Prince William County Police, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and Manassas City Police that the officers acted appropriately and lawfully in their efforts to apprehend this potentially dangerous subject. Officers do not desire to use lethal force, but in these rare cases they must act quickly and decisively to protect themselves and the community. I am thankful that no residents or officers were harmed during this unfortunate incident.”

The Manassas City Police Department’s Internal Affairs is continuing their independent administrative investigation into the shooting. For further information regarding that investigation and the two officers involved in the incident, please contact the Manassas City Police Department.

*A previous release indicated two cruisers were struck by bullets. 

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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