NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - A 23-year-old man who was being chased by police was fatally shot early Saturday after he ignored commands to drop a sawed-off shotgun, the chief of police said.
The saw-off shotgun was recovered at the scene of Kawanza Jamal Beaty’s death, Chief Richard Myers told reporters at a news conference.
The three officers who were involved in the fatal chase were placed on paid administrative leave while two separate investigations are conducted: a criminal investigation into the shooting, and an internal affairs investigation, the department said.
While Myers said his department in this ship-building city has been a leader in equipping its force with body cameras, none of the officers involved in the chase was wearing one.
Myers said the incident began unfolding early Saturday when a narcotics detective, working an extra duty assignment, was tipped that Beaty had been seen with a sawed-off shotgun. It was the second time in as many days that police had received a report of Beaty carrying the weapon.
Two other officers responded and they ultimately tracked down Beaty, who fled on foot, Myers said. One officer reported that the sleeve of Beaty’s coat was “rigid,” suggesting he was carrying a weapon, Myers said.
At one point during the chase, Beaty turned, an officer saw the weapon, and ordered Beaty to drop it, but he didn’t, Myers said.
One officer fired three rounds. Beaty was pronounced dead at the scene, Myers said. An autopsy was planned.
Myers said someone nearby had heard the police warning “Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon!” but had not witnessed the deadly encounter.
Besides the narcotics detective, the responding officers included a patrol sergeant and an officer with the K-9 unit. While the majority of the officers in that precinct wear body cameras, none of the three did, Myers said.
Myers extended his condolences to Beaty’s family and thanked the community for “calm” in light off the continued national attention on police and the use of deadly force.
He also said he met with clergy and the leader of the local NAACP chapter and assured them the investigation would be transparent. Beaty was African-American.
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