- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

An Alexandria police officer who fatally shot a teenager in a restaurant parking lot in February will not face criminal charges, the city’s chief prosecutor said in a report released yesterday.

Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel said physical evidence and statements from bystanders support Officer Carl Stowe’s account that he fired at a sport utility vehicle Feb. 25 outside an International House of Pancakes because it was about to run him down.

Aaron Brown, 19, of Springfield, was killed in the shooting.

Police said that Mr. Brown and his friends had left the restaurant without paying their bill and that Officer Stowe, who was off duty and working as a security guard, fired at the vehicle after attempting to stop them from fleeing.

“The evidence in this case clearly establishes that Stowe fired after the Jeep changed course and headed at him, and he was under reasonable apprehension that his life was in danger,” Mr. Sengel wrote in the 54-page report.

For his review, Mr. Sengel’s office interviewed witnesses and followed up on the police investigation.

The 19-year-old driver, Stephen J. Smith, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of marijuana possession and underage possession of alcohol. He was sentenced to six months of probation and 75 hours of community service, Mr. Sengel said.

The incident was the first fatal shooting involving an Alexandria police officer since April last year, when two officers fatally shot a man holding his 9-year-old son hostage. Those officers were later cleared of wrongdoing.

Although Officer Stowe will not face criminal charges, he remains on paid administrative leave while the Alexandria Police Department completes its investigation, said Capt. John Crawford, a police spokesman.

Capt. Crawford said police were examining whether Officer Stowe’s actions were in compliance with the department’s polices and procedures.

At a press conference, an attorney for Mr. Brown’s family challenged Mr. Sengel’s findings and urged police to discipline Officer Stowe. The attorney also said a civil lawsuit is being considered.

Officer Stowe “could have walked a few steps to place himself out of the way and let the vehicle go by him,” Patrick Malone said.

He asked the city for access to all the information that Mr. Sengel used to reach his decision.

Mr. Brown, who was a student at Northern Virginia Community College, was the only child of Jeff and Cheri Brown. Friends have described him as a free spirit who was well-liked by his peers.

“Aaron is an innocent victim,” Mrs. Brown said. “We will continue to honor him accordingly.”

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