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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Shooting by deputy was justified, commonwealth's attorney rules

Lt. Smith describes what's happening in a video of the incident. [FCPD]
The Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Raymond Morrogh, has exonerated the sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot Yovani Amaya Gomez outside Fairfax Inova Hospital on Aug. 15.

According to Morrogh’s report, released Dec. 16, Gomez charged at Dep. Patrick McPartlin “with what appeared to be a sword” at a bus stop after being released from the hospital.

“Reasonably perceiving himself to be in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, MDS McPartlin, while retreating, discharged his weapon until the threat was abated,” Morrogh stated. “In my legal opinion, this is a case of justifiable homicide and no individual is criminally responsible for the death of Yovani A. Gomez.”

“The deployment of deadly force by a sheriff’s deputy was fully justified under law. It was a split-second decision,” added Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. of the Fairfax County Police Department at a briefing and video screening on the incident Dec. 20.

When Gomez approached Officer K. Woodward of the Mason Police District in his cruiser at 7100 Little River Turnpike in Annandale at about 2 p.m. on an extremely hot August day, he appeared to be twitching and sweating profusely, Roessler said.

At that point, Gomez “displayed symptoms of both medical and mental distress but was non-combative,” said, Lt. David Smith of FCPD’s Major Crimes Division.

Woodward called for an ambulance and followed it to Inova Fairfax Hospital. “The officer “went above and beyond normal protocol,” insisting Gomez get the care he needed and was prepared to take him to the Merrifield Center if mental health services were necessary, Roessler said.

According to Smith, hospital personnel, through a translator, determined that Gomez had no mental health issues and had no desire to hurt himself. Officer Woodward then returned to his normal patrol duties.

The hospital released Gomez between 8 and 9 p.m., Smith said. When hospital security asked him if he needed assistance, Gomez requested transportation to a homeless shelter. They gave him a list of shelters and sent him to a bus shelter outside the Green Garage.

A security guard was alerted by citizens in the hospital about a disturbance at a bus stop although there was no mention of a weapon at that time, Smith continued. Gomez subsequently picked up a signpost and was waving it around.

A security video, played at the briefing and available online, shows Gomez pacing back and forth while security personnel try to contain him while waiting for police to arrive.

At that point Gomez struck a security officer in the neck with the signpost. When McPartlin arrived and learned about the attack, he drew his service weapon and held it next to his leg pointing it downward, Smith said.

Gomez started sprinting toward him and raised the signpost above his head. As McPartlin saw it through the glass of the bus shelter, it appeared to be a sword. He fired four shots, striking Gomez in the torso three times.

“Within two minutes, a full contingent of police officers arrived” and began administering first aid, Smith said. Gomez was brought back to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery but died from his wounds.

“A sign can be a deadly weapon,” Roessler said. “There was no time for the deputy to do
anything except protect himself and the others on the scene.” The hospital had initially determined Gomez was suffering from a medical issue, but something happened at the bus stop to trigger a mental health episode.”

The shooting was “justified under the law,” he said. “It was necessary to prevent more harm to others.”

6 comments:

  1. The sign is mightier than the sword.

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  2. This happens when people think the police are a toy.

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    1. No; this is what happens when people who are in serious need of mental health care don't get it.

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  3. It's time we returned to a Bible-based understanding of the police and why we have them. If you're doing nothing wrong, the police are your friend -- you need not fear them. The Police are put in place by God (through various sovereign means and methods) for the protection of the people. It's only the lawless (and godless) who should fear the police.

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  4. This is not the first--or even the second--time I've heard about people in Fairfax County in need of urgent mental health care who were left to struggle on their own, which only made things worse.

    E.R. personnel aren't really trained well enough to make some assessments about mental health; some of them aren't even aware of potential adverse psychological reactions to the very medications they administer. The fact that the county facilities won't usually take someone in until they are a lethal threat to themselves or others doesn't help. It's kind of like waiting until someone has stage 4 cancer before initiating treatment.

    The stigma and ignorance surrounding mental/emotional health in our country is crippling and can be fatal. My advice: get care for yourself, a loved one, or you whole family before you actually need an emergency room. Better yet, learn how to stay emotionally healthy in the first place as much as possible. Don't wait until it's too late, because the safety net just isn't there.

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