Saturday, January 10, 2009

A 17 year old boy Killed by Martinsville police officer

What We Think About Taser Abuse

Virginia State Police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old Martinsville boy who died Thursday after a city police officer used a Taser on him.

A 17-year-old boy died in the hospital after being Tasered by a Martinsville police officer during an incident Thursday night, the city says.

At 9:25 p.m., an officer responded to a duplex apartment on 307 Rivers Road on a report of a disturbance, according to a city news release.

Upon arrival, Officer R.L. Wray observed a boy run into one of the apartments.

The officer exited his vehicle and approached the front door of the residence where he saw signs of a forced entry and immediately requested an additional officer.

Wray then heard several loud noises coming from the kitchen of the apartment and asked the boy to come out to speak with him.

A release says the boy then came out of the kitchen and came at Wray "rapidly" in an "offensive stance," when the officer deployed his Taser and subdued him.

While the boy was being handcuffed, a 15-year-old boy confronted the officer, but listened to commands to stop.

After the first person was handcuffed, Wray went to arrest the second teen.

Another officer arrived and when the officers went to check on the 17-year-old who was Tasered, the boy was unresponsive without a pulse.

EMS was called and officers immediately began CPR, the release states.

The teen, who has not been identified, later died in the hospital.

The Virginia State Police has been requested to investigate the case.

"This is one of the hardest things to deal with that any one can imagine as a citizen, a parent or a law enforcement officer," said Mike Rogers, Martinsville police chief.

"We will work with (the state police) in any way possible to bring this investigation to a fair and successful conclusion."

By Candice Nelson
WSLS10 Reporter
Published: January 9, 2009

7:57 p.m.

State Police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old after Martinsville Police used a stun device on a teenager Thursday night.

It happened at 307 Rives Road. When 10 On Your side came to the apartment on Friday afternoon, the door was already open, but nobody was inside.

What appears empty now, was swarming with police and investigators Thursday night.

Justin Gregory, 15, says his friend, 17-year-old Derick, died after a Martinsville officer used a taser on him. Gregory told us Derick and Derick’s mother had only lived in the home for about a week; however, the boys were alone on Thursday night. Although friends say the victim’s name was Derick, police have not released the victim’s name; therefore, Ten On Your Side has decided not to release the victim’s full name, yet.

Police say they were called there for a disorderly conduct after callers say someone was “using the bathroom” in the road.

Gregory tells us Derick, “was out in the middle of the road acting stupid.”

When the boys went inside, Gregory said only a few minutes went by before police arrived. Police say it was Officer R.L. Wray who responded. When he arrived, he noticed the front door had been forced open and requested assistance. Police say Wray heard loud banging noises coming from the kitchen, which according to Gregory is in the back of the home.

When Gregory saw the officer coming, he claims, “I was upstairs, and the cops told me to come down. So I came downstairs, and everything happened,” said Gregory.

Gregory says Derick had been drinking, but claims there was no confrontation with police.

“Derick walked around from the kitchen, into the living room, and got half-way into the living room, and the cop tased him. He didn’t run at him or nothing,” said Gregory.

But at a news conference, Police went into detail, saying Derick “moved rapidly toward Officer Wray in an offensive stance.”

When Gregory’s mother, Jennifer Crigger, found out what was going on, she told police, “I just told them ‘you better thank God in Heaven it wasn’t my son,’ because it could’ve easily been.“

When she thinks about why the cops were there in the first place, Crigger said, “It wasn’t that serious. He’s 17, and his life is cut short over a ‘disturbing the peace’ call.”

“For now, police say they’re not sure if the taser is what killed Derick. All that is still under investigation.

Police say there are a number of factors that could have killed Derick – anything from pre-existing medical conditions to any kind of drug or alcohol abuse.

Wray is on paid administrative leave, and has been on the force for over two years.

Police say Wray immediately called for medical assistance when he found the victim unresponsive and then tried CPR. Police say the victim was pronounced dead at the Memorial Hospital of Martinsville.

Now, Virginia State Police will handle the investigation.


4:53 p.m.

Martinsville Police news release below:

The Martinsville Police Department is working with the Virginia State Police on the investigation of an incident which occurred in the City of Martinsville on Thursday evening.

Martinsville Police Department Officers were dispatched at 9:25 p.m. to 307 Rives Road, a duplex apartment, in reference to a possible fight and/or disturbance. Upon arrival, Officer R. L. Wray observed, from his police cruiser, a young male run inside apartment number two. Officer Wray exited the vehicle and approached the front door of the residence where he observed signs of forced entry. Officer Wray then contacted dispatch requesting assistance.

Officer Wray then came in contact with an individual near the front door of the residence. Wray heard a series of loud repetitive noises coming from the kitchen area of the apartment. Officer Wray asked the individual in the kitchen to come out so that he could speak with him. The individual, also a young male, exited the kitchen and moved rapidly toward Officer Wray in an offensive stance. Officer Wray then deployed his Taser and subdued the individual. While he was in the process of handcuffing the individual from the kitchen, Officer Wray was confronted by the other male subject, who was now on the front porch. Wray gave the individual a verbal warning. The subject ceased his action and complied with the warning. Officer Wray finished handcuffing the individual from the kitchen, then proceeded to the front porch and advised the other male subject that he was under arrest.

MPD Officer E. W. Dillard arrived to assist Officer Wray. When Wray went back to the other individual from the kitchen and started speaking to him the subject was unresponsive. Officer Wray immediately called for medical assistance. The subject did not appear to have a pulse, so Officer Wray began CPR.

Medical personnel from Martinsville Fire & EMS arrived and treated the individual at the scene then transported him to Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County. The individual, later determined to be a 17 year old male juvenile, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital later that evening. The other arrestee, later determined to be a 15 year old male juvenile, was taken into custody without further incident. There were no other injuries.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man and with Officer R. L. Wray and his family. This is one of the hardest things to deal with that any one can imagine as a citizen, a parent, or a law enforcement officer. We contacted the Virginia State Police as soon as we found out what had happened. They will take over the investigation from here forward. We will work with them in any way possible to bring this investigation to a fair and successful conclusion. May God bless all those involved and their families,” said Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers.

The Virginia State Police will handle the investigation going forward.


Check out how one news operation reported the killing:

3:00 p.m.

From Candice Nelson, in the field
WSLS Reporter

A 17-year-old boy is dead, following a taser incident with Martinsville Police.

According to a 15-year-old witness, the death happened Thursday night.

The 15-year-old claims he and the 17-year-old were having a loud argument in the middle of the street over a stolen alcoholic beverage. Then they found out police were coming, and went inside a duplex that the 17-year-old lived at.

When police arrived, the 15-year-old claims he ran upstairs, and officers used a taser on the 17-year-old.

When police brought the 15-year-old downstairs, and then outside he claims he asked where his friend was. The 17-year-old later died.

Martinsville Police have a news conference set for 4:00 p.m. More HERE and More HERE

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