Chief: Officers 'did what they had to do' in fatal shooting
Aug. 07, 2015
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — When a black man was fatally shot by Richmond police in an alley, some residents believed it was the latest example of an overaggressive police force.
But within hours, the city's police chief released a detailed account of what happened, defended his officers' actions and credited the deceased man's mother with pacifying angry neighbors.
"She was the angel," Chief Alfred Durham said Thursday. "She calmed that community."
Durham said 20-year-old Keshawn Hargrove was killed by a single gunshot Wednesday. Officer Ryan Bailey was shot in the arm and wounded.
Bailey and officer Jacob DeBoard had responded to a report of an armed man, the chief said, and Hargrove fled when the officers approached him. He said Hargrove refused orders to drop his weapon and opened fire on the officers, who returned fire as they chased the suspect down an alley.
"My officers did what they had to do," the chief said.
Chief Durham was confronted at the scene that evening by an angry crowd of neighbors who demanded to know whether police followed proper procedures. Hargrove's mother, standing inside the police crime scene tape with Durham, urged the crowd to be patient while police investigate.
The chief said results of an internal investigation will be turned over to the Richmond prosecutor, who will decide whether the officers' actions were justified.
At a news conference, Durham insisted Richmond's first fatal police shooting since 2010 was not a racially charged shootout as some in the community have suggested. Bailey is black and DeBoard is white. Durham could not say which officer fired the fatal shot.
"This is not Ferguson," the chief said, referring to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer a year ago in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer was cleared in that case, but the shooting set off protests, unrest and nationwide scrutiny of police officers' treatment of black people.
The shooting occurred in a racially diverse neighborhood of the city's Fan District, named for the shape of its street grid. The Fan is known for its historic row homes, cafes, Virginia Commonwealth University and Monument Avenue, which features statues of Confederate heroes.
By Thursday, shopkeepers in the neighborhood said everything was back to normal. A woman at a hair salon near the shooting said there had been no cancellations. A cashier at a convenience store that backs up to the alley where the shooting took place said his store was closed for three hours Wednesday but business wasn't affected Thursday.
King Salim Khalfani, the longtime former executive director of the Virginia NAACP, agreed with Durham that the incident is unlike the shootings of unarmed black men that have prompted protests elsewhere.
"I understand the pain, man, but if what we heard is true, you can't run down the street firing at police and ducking for cover," Khalfani said. "Not a smart thing to do."
Dorothy Warden has lived across the street from Hargrove's grandmother's house, where Hargrove lived, for the past decade. She said she used to take Hargrove to church when he was a child.
"I didn't think that he was a violent person," she said.
Richmond Circuit Court records show Hargrove pleaded guilty to malicious wounding and possession of a firearm by a felon in 2010. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
A document in the court file on that case says Hargrove told investigators he had a long juvenile court record: six previous arrests on 14 charges. Juvenile court records in Virginia are closed.
Associated Press writer Alan Suderman contributed to this report.