Prosecutor finds officer-involved shooting justified

Local News

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison has concluded that an officer-involved shooting that happened at the end of December of 2018 was justified and legal. 

No charges will be issued against Lynchburg Officer Michael Iazzi who used deadly force on December 30, 2018. 

Harrison released the following conclusion about what happened:

“On December 30, 2018, Officer Iazzi was confronted with a rapidly changing, chaotic, and escalating situation. The initial call for service involved a “violent trespasser” and the 911 caller hung up. The next message relayed to the officer was that the call changed to a “fight in progress.” Within seconds after Officer Iazzi got out of his marked police cruiser he was told by 5 a person in the street that a firearm was involved. Immediately after this the loud and regular beeps of a car horn go on for 2 minutes. Eight seconds after the officer was told a firearm was involved, the officer is heard yelling “Hey drop the gun right now!” on the BWC footage.

Six seconds after the officer’s commands, Malik Andrews can be seen on the BWC footage. Over the next 2 seconds Andrews turned his body toward the officer, brought the barrel of the rifle around along with his torso until the rifle faced the officer, then pulled the barrel of the rifle up in the direction of Officer Iazzi. At this same time Officer Iazzi is able to yell out another command to drop the gun. The officer’s third attempt to yell the command was stopped short when the officer fired his service weapon twice at Andrews. Officer Iazzi perception was that he saw a man in a tan coat with a rifle, Andrews, pointed at another man, Harvey.

Andrews appear to follow Harvey. The officer commanded that the man drop his gun. Andrews looked at the officer then turned around and pointed his rifle at the officer. Officer Iazzi believed this to be a threat of deadly force against himself and fired 2 shots at Andrews. Officer Iazzi’s perception of the events at the time that they occurred were corroborated by a witness on the scene, Edgar Harvey. Harvey said Andrews had a firearm pointed at Harvey and continued to follow Harvey as he tried to back away. Harvey indicated he could clearly hear the officer’s commands to drop the gun. At that time, Andrews stopped following him then turned his body and his rifle toward the officer. After these motions by Andrews, Harvey heard the gun shots.

While any person’s perception of events may not always be accurate, here Officer Iazzi’s perception of the unfolding events were supported by the BWC footage and a witness on scene who had a clear view of all the events. Based on the law and the substantial evidence in this case, it is my opinion that the actions of Officer Michael Iazzi were reasonable, justified, and legal under the circumstances presented to him on December 30, 2018. Officer Iazzi’s use of deadly force was initiated to protect himself and others from serious bodily injury or death. No charges will be issued against Officer Iazzi for the events of December 30, 2018.”

Read the full report here. 

STATEMENT FROM LYNCHBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT:

The Lynchburg Police Department was notified last night that the L ynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison had made a determination that Officer Iazzi was justified in discharging his LPD -issued handgun during the December 30, 2018 incident that took place in the 700 -block of Norwood St. Her finding further supp orts our initial assessment of the incident. The LPD appreciates her thorough and diligent review of the facts presented to her by the Virginia State Police, who investigated the incident at the request of LPD Chief Ryan Zuidema. We are also thankful for t he Virginia State Police for their assistance after the incident and their comprehensive and independent investigation into the events that took place surrounding the officer’s actions. At this time, Officer Iazzi is no longer on restricted duty and has returned to regular duty. The internal administrative investigation is still ongoing. The events that transpired on Norwood St are a stark reminder of the split -second decisions that officers are faced with every day. Routine incidents can quic kly evolve into life -threatening situations. Officers of the Lynchburg Police Department are highly trained, dedicated law enforcement professionals who selflessly put the safety of others ahead of their own on a regular basis. The LPD will faithfully cont inue in its mission of partnering with our community and protecting our citizens, while respecting the rights and dignity of all persons.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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