Commonwealth’s Attorney says Lynchburg officer justified in firing gun that killed a man’s dog

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — WFXR News is learning more about an incident where a Lynchburg police officer shot and killed someone’s dog while performing an emergency custody order on Feb. 26.

According to the Lynchburg Police Department, Officer Vernon Parrish fired the shot that killed the dog and another officer then shot the individual with a taser and took him into custody.

Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance reviewed the incident as an outside observer.

Nance determined that Parrish was justified in using the deadly force that killed the dog.

Nance’s report says police were responding to a domestic dispute involving the end of a relationship between a woman who called police and a man apparently going through a mental health episode, possibly combined with drug use.

The woman said the man has several bladed weapons, including multiple knives and an axe.

Nance says after three hours of attempted negotiations with the man, his hand reached under some covers or clothing and started to pull his arm back out. That’s when Parrish fired the shot that killed the dog and grazed the man’s fingers.

“Although there are other officers behind him,” said Nance, “they are clearly behind him. And so this lead officer doesn’t know whether the individual in question is pulling out a knife, a gun or not, and so he has the right to defend himself.”

Nance released screenshots from the body camera video shows the red light of a taser pointed at the man before the gunshot.

The report said the man “threatened to kill himself, and others, on prior occasions and on this night.”

Nance tells WFXR News he did not know if there was a mental health professional present during the negotiations with the individual.

The Lynchburg Police Department refused to release the body camera footage, saying there is an ongoing internal investigation.

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