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Fatal shooting ruled justified

FAIRLAWN — A Pulaski County deputy was justified in using deadly force to stop a Fairlawn man who lunged at him with a knife May 29.
“It appears clear that Deputy (David) Cressell acted properly,” said Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor in a written opinion. “He took numerous steps to avoid a violent confrontation, but all efforts on his part were ignored by (the suspect, John Harvey) Collins.”
Fleenor’s opinion was based on the results of an independent investigation conducted by Virginia State Police Investigator B. J. Svard.
It is standard practice for a separate law enforcement agency to investigate a case when an officer from another department is involved in the case.
Fleenor goes on to state, “Cressell was legitimately in fear for his life and reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury by an armed assailant — an assailant that had just assaulted a toddler and a juvenile minutes before.”
According to Svard’s investigation, there is really “no dispute” about the events surrounding Collins’ death, based on interviews with 11 people, including Cressell, who witnessed the events that evening.
The report states that a dispatcher sent Cressell to a mobile home park off Nicewander Way to check into a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the deputy was told by witnesses that Collins pushed a small child off a tricycle and then chased the child’s mother with a stick. A teenager tried to intervene in the incident, but the report says Collins struck the teen in the upper body and neck “five to eight times” with the stick.
“Deputy Cressell actually observed the injuries to the teenager’s neck. After being further advised that Collins had a large knife, Cressell went to Collins’ trailer.”
The information goes on to say that Collins threw the stick at Cressell and charged at him when the deputy arrived outside the suspects’ trailer.
“Numerous” witnesses observed Cressell tell Collins to put down the knife “repeatedly.”
However, Collins refused and charged at Cressell with the knife, the report states.
“Deputy Cressell again told Collins to drop the knife and backed up. Collins continued charging at the deputy,” Fleenor continues.
“As Collins neared the deputy, Cressell told investigators he believed Collins was going to kill him, so he shot twice striking Collins both times.”
Collins died at the scene of the gunshot wounds.
Although there was some evidence Collins may have had some kind of mental illness that may have contributed to the situation, “he was no less of a threat and no less dangerous to Deputy Cressell,” Fleenor said.
Fleenor notes that law enforcement officers have just as much right to defend themselves as any other citizen.
“In rare circumstances the use of lethal force is proper. Unfortunately for everyone involved this was one of those rare situations,” Fleenor concludes.

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Fatal shooting ruled justified

FAIRLAWN — A Pulaski County deputy was justified in using deadly force to stop a Fairlawn man who lunged at him with a knife May 29.
“It appears clear that Deputy (David) Cressell acted properly,” said Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor in a written opinion. “He took numerous steps to avoid a violent confrontation, but all efforts on his part were ignored by (the suspect, John Harvey) Collins.”
Fleenor’s opinion was based on the results of an independent investigation conducted by Virginia State Police Investigator B. J. Svard.
It is standard practice for a separate law enforcement agency to investigate a case when an officer from another department is involved in the case.
Fleenor goes on to state, “Cressell was legitimately in fear for his life and reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury by an armed assailant — an assailant that had just assaulted a toddler and a juvenile minutes before.”
According to Svard’s investigation, there is really “no dispute” about the events surrounding Collins’ death, based on interviews with 11 people, including Cressell, who witnessed the events that evening.
The report states that a dispatcher sent Cressell to a mobile home park off Nicewander Way to check into a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the deputy was told by witnesses that Collins pushed a small child off a tricycle and then chased the child’s mother with a stick. A teenager tried to intervene in the incident, but the report says Collins struck the teen in the upper body and neck “five to eight times” with the stick.
“Deputy Cressell actually observed the injuries to the teenager’s neck. After being further advised that Collins had a large knife, Cressell went to Collins’ trailer.”
The information goes on to say that Collins threw the stick at Cressell and charged at him when the deputy arrived outside the suspects’ trailer.
“Numerous” witnesses observed Cressell tell Collins to put down the knife “repeatedly.”
However, Collins refused and charged at Cressell with the knife, the report states.
“Deputy Cressell again told Collins to drop the knife and backed up. Collins continued charging at the deputy,” Fleenor continues.
“As Collins neared the deputy, Cressell told investigators he believed Collins was going to kill him, so he shot twice striking Collins both times.”
Collins died at the scene of the gunshot wounds.
Although there was some evidence Collins may have had some kind of mental illness that may have contributed to the situation, “he was no less of a threat and no less dangerous to Deputy Cressell,” Fleenor said.
Fleenor notes that law enforcement officers have just as much right to defend themselves as any other citizen.
“In rare circumstances the use of lethal force is proper. Unfortunately for everyone involved this was one of those rare situations,” Fleenor concludes.

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