- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A Virginia prosecutor on Wednesday cleared two police officers in the shooting death of a woman who reached for a fake handgun in her waist band as they confronted her.

Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood wrote in a report that the shooting was a “reasonable reaction” and that the woman’s “decision-making process was fueled” by alcohol and cocaine.

The incident occurred March 19 in the parking lot of a shopping center. India Beaty, 25, and a friend had gotten a few drinks at a pizza shop. At the same time, undercover police were in a surveillance van in the parking lot waiting for a suspected drug dealer to arrive.

As the police waited, they saw Beaty’s friend get into an argument with another man, Underwood’s report said. The officers watched as Beaty pulled what appeared to be a handgun on the other man, prompting police to abandon their drug investigation and confront her.

The report said police identified themselves and were wearing tactical vests emblazoned with “POLICE” on the front and back. As they approached Beaty, she ignored their commands to show her hands and get on the ground.

Beaty turned toward the approaching officers, looked at them, and then pulled the apparent handgun out of her waist area in direct contravention of the police instructions,” the report stated.

Beaty was shot five times. An autopsy revealed that she had cocaine and alcohol in her system.

The man who Beaty pulled a gun on later told investigators that “100 percent I believe she had a gun” and that she “was mad like she was going to shoot me,” according to Underwood’s report.

The report does not provide the races of the two officers involved. Beaty was black.

Norfolk police spokesman Daniel Hudson said it’s not the department’s policy to release the races of officers involved in shootings. He added that an internal department investigation will begin now that the commonwealth’s attorney has completed his report.

Beaty’s family had asked the local chapter of the NAACP to conduct its own investigation into the shooting in March. Joe Dillard, the Norfolk branch president, did not immediately return a phone call or an email asking for comment.

The woman’s father, McKinley Beaty, told The Virginian-Pilot (https://bit.ly/2iCDiA1) on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe she had a gun. He said that even if she had a fake one, she would not have pointed it at police.

He vowed to sue the officers and the department.

“I’m still going to pursue this case as long as there’s breath in my body,” he told the newspaper.

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