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Westlake Legal Group > Jacqueline A. Kramer, Esq.

Happy Holidays from Westlake Legal Group! Here are a few snippets from interesting cases in 2017, courtesy of the Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Westlake Legal Group legal-news-300x300 Happy Holidays from Westlake Legal Group! Here are a few snippets from interesting cases in 2017, courtesy of the Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Probable Cause Legal News Snippets Jacqueline A. Kramer

Discharge Denied for False Property Valuation

A chapter 7 debtor who had two degrees in finance and a professional career as a financial advisor should have known that his lowball valuation of a minority interest in a real estate investment company at just 4 percent of his initial capital contribution was too low to be accurate; the 4th Circuit affirms a denial of a discharge in bankruptcy under the false oath provision of 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(4).

Robinson v. Worley (VLW 017-2-052) (17 pp.)

 

Same Transaction’ Test Saves Refiled Suit

A plaintiff who nonsuited her dental malpractice suit alleging nerve damage from a negligent root canal, but refiled her complaint with additional allegations, survives defendant’s plea in bar with the Alexandria Circuit Court’s application of the “same transaction or occurrence” test, instead of the “same evidence” test advocated by defendant.

Panth v. Ashouripour, DDS (VLW 017-8-006) (2 pp.)

 

Emails With Carrier Must Be Produced

In plaintiff’s suit alleging injuries sustained at a paper plant when a commercial rigging tool he was using to remove a steam air heater coil broke, a Norfolk U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge grants plaintiff’s motion to compel defendant United Rentals to produce emails between United Rentals and an insurance carrier sent in the ordinary course of business immediately following the accident.

Goff v. United Rentals NA (VLW 017-3-167) (6 pp.)

 

Portions of Release Admissible to Show Risk

Prior to trial of plaintiff’s suit for injuries he suffered while playing indoor Segway Polo at the Homestead hotel, the Harrisonburg U.S. District Court denies plaintiff’s motion to exclude the “Segway Personal Transporter Tours Liability Release Form” in its entirety; portions of the Release are admissible to show that plaintiff was aware of the risks of playing Segway Polo.

McConnel v. Omni Hotels Mgmt. Corp. (VLW 017-3-356) (4 pp.)

 

Nonlawyer Signatures OK’d for Agency Staff

Petitions for the emergency removal of children and for termination of parental rights signed by social workers, not lawyers, were properly filed in the juvenile and domestic relations courts, under amendments to Va. Code §§ 16.1-260(A), 54.1-3900 and Code § 63.2-332; each of the form petitions in these appeals that were signed by nonlawyer agency employees were valid pleadings that did not constitute unauthorized practice of law by those employees, the Court of Appeals holds.

Rudolph v. City of Newport News Dep’t of Human Services (VLW 016-7-310) (9 pp.)

 

Court Doubts Probable Cause for Drug Arrest

The 4th Circuit reverses summary judgment in this civil rights suit for defendant police officer who arrested plaintiff “April Smith” for selling crack cocaine, leading to her detention for 80 days before the criminal charges were dropped; even ignoring whether plaintiff’s weight, at either 160 pounds or 200 pounds, qualified as “skinny,” a criminal history, common gender and unfortunately common name is not enough to establish probable cause.

Smith v. Munday (VLW 017-2-031) (31 pp.)

 

No Free Speech Claim from Facebook Comment Removal

A prosecutor’s deletion of plaintiff’s comment on the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s official Facebook page, and blocking of plaintiff from leaving further comments for several months, did not violate plaintiff’s First Amendment rights, an Alexandria U.S. District Court holds; defendant also is entitled to qualified immunity and 11th Amendment immunity with respect to plaintiff’s claims for damages against defendant in his official capacity.

Davison v. Plowman (VLW 017-3-180) (32 pp.)

 

Sexting teen has suit against police

A teen charged with child pornography offenses after sexting his teenage girlfriend can sue a police detective who forced the teen to masturbate so the detective could get photos for evidence.

Sims v. Labowitz (VLW 017-2-209) (30 pp.)

 

Due Process Denied in Student Misconduct Case

A male college student wins summary judgment against James Madison University in his suit alleging he was not afforded due process in JMU’s investigation and discipline of him for sexual misconduct in allegedly forcing sex upon a female student; the Harrisonburg U.S. District Court says plaintiff was deprived of his protected property interest in continued enrollment at JMU, without adequate due process.

Doe v. Alger (VLW 017-3-026) (30 pp.)

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Virginia death row inmate gets hearing on witness statements

By: The Associated Press November 17, 2017

Westlake Legal Group meeting-1-300x169 Virginia death row inmate gets hearing on witness statements Virginia Death Row Virginia Death Row   (AP) A federal appeals court has ordered a lower court to hold a hearing on a Virginia death row inmate’s claim that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence favorable to him.

Anthony Juniper was sentenced to death for the 2004 murders of his former girlfriend, her two children and her brother in Norfolk.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday sent the case back to U.S. District Court, finding that a judge was wrong to dismiss Juniper’s claim without holding a hearing.

Juniper’s lawyers allege that a witness gave an account to police that contradicted the prosecution’s timeline of the killings and failed to identify Juniper from a photo array.

A judge stayed Juniper’s execution in 2011 and allowed him to pursue appeals in federal court.

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Supreme Court takes a technological step forward

Supreme Court takes a technological step forward

By: The Associated Press November 10, 2017

Westlake Legal Group Supreme-Crt223-300x175 Supreme Court takes a technological step forward Technology advance in US Courts Supreme Court Tech Advance Supreme Court   WASHINGTON (AP) Surely but slowly, the Supreme Court is entering the 21st century. The court is making new legal filings available online starting Monday, years behind the rest of the federal court system.

Can livestreamed audio of arguments and even televised sessions be far behind? Yes, they can.

But advocates of court openness will take what they can get for now, especially because the Supreme Court will not charge for documents. The federal courts’ PACER system does charge fees.

“Though the Supreme Court has moved glacially to join the rest of the judiciary in permitting online filing, that’s better than not at all, and the institution should be commended for creating an e-filing system that, unlike PACER, will be free and easily accessible to the public,” said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court.

Over the years, the justices have at times shown a glancing familiarity with technology. Some carry computer tablets with high court briefs loaded on them. But notes between justices are routinely sent on paper, definitely not by email.

Chief Justice John Roberts himself noted a few years back that the court stuck with pneumatic tubes to transmit newly released opinions from the courtroom to reporters waiting one floor below until 1971, long after their heyday.

Roberts said that it’s appropriate for courts “to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity” because their primary role is to resolve disputes fairly.

Many Supreme Court legal briefs already are available online and for free from several sources. Scotusblog.com obtains and posts many of them, along with opinions. The Justice Department has an easily accessible archive of its extensive high court filings on its website, and the American Bar Association posts briefs in the 70 to 80 cases the court agrees to hear each term.

But the public may not know to look elsewhere. When the justices issued their highly anticipated decision upholding President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in 2012, the court’s website was overwhelmed.

It, too, has recently been overhauled to make it friendlier to the public.

The Supreme Court updates come amid criticism of the PACER system as outmoded and unfair. “The PACER system used by the lower federal courts is hopelessly outdated and cumbersome. And, to add insult to injury, the PACER system charges people fees to access court records that should be made freely available,” said Deepak Gupta, the lead attorney in a class-action lawsuit challenging PACER fees.

The judiciary says the fees provide the only money to pay for the system.

The cost to users was just one among several reasons the court opted not to join the PACER system, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

“The court elected to design its system in-house so that it would have the capability to customize and continuously update to meet the distinctive needs of the court and counsel,” Arberg said.

Until now, lawyers have not been required to submit their filings to the court electronically. Beginning Monday, those documents should appear quickly on the court’s website. People who can’t afford to pay court costs will be allowed to file paper copies, which Supreme Court employees will scan and post online.

Not everything is changing. Lawyers still will be required to submit up to 40 paper copies of every brief, and the court’s color-coding system to distinguish types of briefs also will remain.

There’s no timetable for electronic filings to supplant paper as the official court record.

And there’s also no expectation that the justices will drop their prohibition on cameras in the courtroom anytime soon.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who once sounded open to cameras, recently told a New York audience that cameras might detract from the robust exchanges during arguments.

The Supreme Court also refuses to livestream audio of its arguments, even as the federal appeals court just down Capitol Hill recently has allowed live audio access to its hearings. The high court posts transcripts within hours of arguments, but doesn’t release the audio for days.

-MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Court Rules Request for “Lawyer Dog” Too Ambiguous

Westlake Legal Group lawyer-dogg-300x199 Court Rules Request for “Lawyer Dog” Too Ambiguous litigious hound Lawyer Dogg Advocating Alaskan Malamute   A “lawyer dog?” As in a litigious hound? An advocating Alaskan Malamute? Not quite…The Louisiana Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from a man who claimed he told police during an interview to “just give me a lawyer dog,” with a justice saying the request was “ambiguous.”

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Scott Crichton said he agreed with the court’s decision to deny the appeal, claiming the defendant had voluntarily agreed to be interviewed twice regarding his alleged sexual misconduct with minors. At both interviews, detectives reportedly advised the defendant of his Miranda rights, and the defendant stated he understood and waived those rights.

The defendant, however, claimed he invoked his right to counsel in a second police interview when he said, “if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”

 

Justice Crichton  noted, however, in a concurring opinion the court has held that police are not required to stop an interview if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is “ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable police officer in light of the circumstances would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking his right to counsel.”

“In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview,” he said.

 

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Defamation and Tortious Interference Case

Westlake Legal Group Defamation-300x147 Defamation and Tortious Interference Case Virginia Lawyers Weekly Tortious Interference Defamation   Defamation and Tortious Interference Case–

As reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Plaintiff survived a Motion to Dismiss where plaintiff employee, a clerk placed at an Army recruiting center by the defendant subcontracting staffing agency, was terminated after a 90-day reprimand notice containing false information was sent to the agency, the plaintiff stated claims for defamation and tortious interference sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). As to the defamation and defamation per se claims, defendants’ contention that plaintiff failed to specify the method of publication of the false statements fails, as sufficient facts are pled to give rise to an inference of publication.  Plaintiff also sufficiently pled malice to overcome a claim of qualified privilege.

As to the tortious interference claim, plaintiff likewise sufficiently pled that she had a valid at-will contract and that defendant staffing agency knew of the contract and maliciously interfered with that contract, resulting in damage that included the loss of her job. Motions to dismiss denied. See McCray v. Infused Solutions, LLC.

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Wedding in Washington, D.C., Marriage Not Valid in Virginia–

Westlake Legal Group Wedding-300x164 Wedding in Washington, D.C., Marriage Not Valid in Virginia-- wedding validity? Is you wedding valid? Invalid Weddings DC wedding not VA valid   Wedding in Washington, D.C., Marriage Not Valid in Virginia–A Virginia couple that exchanged their vows on the other side of the Potomac River has learned that their marriage is invalid under Virginia law.

The pair obtained a marriage license in Virginia, but  they took part in a wedding ceremony at a church in Washington, D.C. In a case of first impression, a Fairfax County judge has ruled that the marriage cannot be considered valid in the Old Dominion. The officiant, who was licensed to perform marriages in Virginia, noticed after the wedding ceremony that the marriage license was issued in Virginia, but the ceremony occurred in D.C. Rather than curing the defect by holding a second ceremony in Virginia, the officiant and the couple crossed out “D.C.” on the wedding license and wrote in Arlington. When the couple was divorcing 10 years later, the Judge ruled that there was no valid marriage and the couple’s property, including a house and pension benefits, was not subject to equitable distribution.

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Courts differ on Marijuana Suspension law—

Westlake Legal Group LawyerMarijuana-300x164 Courts differ on Marijuana Suspension law— Marijuana Suspension Laws Marijuana driving impairment Marijuana Driving under Marijuana Influence Driving intoxicated   Courts differ on Marijuana Suspension law—By Peter Vieth of Virginia Lawyers Weekly–Some lawyers are encountering clouds of confusion about whether the state’s automatic license suspension for some first-offense marijuana offenders is still in effect.

Virginia judges are said to be taking different approaches to whether the marijuana offenders must have their driver’s licenses suspended for six months in light of legislative changes that are contingent on continued federal highway funding.

State Sen. Ryan T. McDougle spoke of a “dichotomy of justice” describing the situation at an Oct. 20 meeting of the state Committee on District Courts. “I think ultimately you’re going to have people receiving different levels of justice,” McDougle said.

McDougle said Gov. Terry McAuliffe could clear up the confusion and put the new rules in operation with a one-sentence certification to satisfy terms of federal regulators. McAuliffe’s office did not respond to a request for information on the status of the legislation as of press time.
Reform approved

Responding to calls for reform of harsh license suspension rules, the General Assembly this year passed bills that would remove a six-month automatic license suspension for some defendants charged in marijuana possession cases.
Critics said Virginia’s marijuana penalties can be harsh. A first offender caught with less than a half an ounce can be convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and a six month driver’s license suspension.

The Code allows a first offender to get a deferred disposition, where the judge takes the case under advisement for a year while the defendant completes probation and community service requirements. A deferred disposition could mean no conviction on the defendant’s record. Under the previous law, however, those defendants still had to lose their driver’s licenses for six months.
The reform bills passed this year would change that suspension penalty. Juveniles convicted of marijuana possession still lose their licenses, but, for adult defendants, judges would have discretion as to a license suspension.
Former Secretary of Public Safety Randy Rollins, who runs a non-profit that helps restore driving privileges for ex-offenders, has urged an end to mandatory suspensions that limit defendants’ ability to get or keep employment. The penalty is especially unfair when the offense has nothing to do with driving, he says.
During legislative debate, bill co-sponsor Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, said about 39,000 Virginians lose their licenses each year for drug offenses.

Co-sponsor Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Moneta, said that, as an attorney, he had seen young people hurt by the suspension policy. Stanley told the Capital News Service in January the legislation was designed to provide an “opportunity of a second chance for making a dumb mistake.”

At a January House subcommittee meeting, former college student Ryan Johnson described his reaction to a six-month suspension for a possession charge: “I said to myself, ‘Why is my license being suspended for something that didn’t involve a car or driving? And how am I supposed to get to school and work?’”
Johnson told delegates his license suspension was the most disruptive part of his sentencing.
Contingency questions

As passed and signed by McAuliffe, the reform legislation would have been effective July 1 as long as state regulators received written assurance from the Federal Highway Administration that Virginia would not lose federal funding as result of the changes.

Virginia requested that written assurance with a May 31 letter to the FHA. The feds responded June 26 saying no federal funding would be withheld as long as the governor provides a written certification as to Virginia’s conformity with federal law by Jan. 1 of each year.

Opinions differ as to whether that message gives the “all clear” for the reforms to take effect.
Wise County General District Judge Clarence E. Phillips said he was surprised to hear that some judges believed the contingency had been met. Another judge said some judges may believe they have a free hand as long as someone has not expressly told them otherwise.

McDougle said the confusion could be cleared up if the governor signed a new “Drug Offender’s Driver’s License Suspension Certification” as he has in years past. Attorney General Mark Herring also could end confusion by speaking out, McDougle said.

Phillips said it was up to the legislature to provide guidance.
Herring’s office did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Jacqueline A. Kramer
Attorney at Law
Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Rape allegation makes Muslin teen’s death a capital case

Rape allegation makes Muslin teen’s death a capital case

 

Westlake Legal Group Rape-300x215 Rape allegation makes Muslin teen’s death a capital case Rape Muslim murder Islamic abduction   As reported by the Associated Press, the indictment issued Monday includes capital murder and rape charges and will allow prosecutors to pursue a death-penalty case against Darwin Martinez-Torres, 22, of Sterling. He is accused in the slaying of Nabra Hassanen of Reston, whose death back in June rattled northern Virginia’s Muslim community.

Prior to Monday’s indictment, much of the discussion surrounding the case revolved around whether prosecutors should bring hate-crime charges — as sought by some activists — or whether it was a case of road rage, as police have long maintained. Monday’s indictment, though, brought into focus another aspect of the case: While police had said previously they were investigating whether Hassanen had been sexually assaulted, the indictment is the first court document to spell out any kind of sex-crime charges against Martinez-Torres. Virginia law allows prosecutors to pursue a death penalty case only under certain conditions. Those include murder in the commission of a rape and murder during an abduction with intent to defile.

The seven-count indictment handed up Monday actually includes four counts of capital murder, with occasionally graphic detail on the ways in which prosecutors believe the slaying qualifies for the death penalty.

The teenager’s death continues to resonate. More than 200 supporters wearing “Justice for Nabra” T-shirts showed up at a preliminary hearing Friday for Martinez-Torres. The hearing was delayed when the girl’s parents had to be restrained from charging at Martinez-Torres. Her mother threw a shoe at him.

Police have said Hassanen was out with a group of more than a dozen friends at about 3:40 a.m. June 18. The group was walking back to their mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, after eating at a McDonald’s ahead of a daylong fast. Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which this year coincided with the summer solstice. As a result, teens from the mosque sometimes went out for fast-food meals in the overnight hours between the late-night and early morning prayer services.

Police say Martinez-Torres encountered the group and got into a confrontation with some of the kids who had been in the roadway. Martinez-Torres chased after the group and caught Hassanen, at one point bludgeoning her with a baseball bat, police said.

In a search warrant affidavit, police say Martinez-Torres admitted killing Hassanen and that he led them to where he had dumped her body in a nearby pond. Some Muslim activists called for hate-crime charges. Police and prosecutors said they have seen no evidence of anti-Muslim bias that would warrant such a charge.

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Chiropractor cannot sue carrier on patient’s assignment

Chiropractor cannot sue carrier on patient’s assignment—

 

Westlake Legal Group Chiro444-300x201 Chiropractor cannot sue carrier on patient’s assignment healthcare provider litigation Chiropractor lawsuit assignment of benefits   As reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, a health care provider cannot use a patient’s assignment of benefits to directly sue a tortfeasor’s liability carrier, the Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled. The court said the liability insurer had no obligation to honor the injured claimant’s assignment to his chiropractor. The Sept. 14 decision answers a question raised in several recent cases where chiropractors sought court-ordered payment from insurance companies that covered drivers accused of causing injuries. The appeal arose from a motor vehicle collision in Danville. Devonta Dodson claimed injury caused by Joann Hutson, who was insured by Erie Insurance Company.

Dodson sought treatment from McKinley and signed a form assigning to McKinley “all insurance and/or litigation proceeds” and “any and all causes of action” that the patient might have against an insurance company to satisfy the medical bills. The assignment language cited by the court appears in a standard assignment form posted on the website of the Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association.

Dodson was not represented by a lawyer, according a statement by McKinley’s attorney at oral argument.

McKinley twice sent the assignment form to Erie. The insurance company nonetheless settled with Dodson for $7,300 and ignored the assignment. In the settlement, Dodson released both Hutson and Erie from all claims arising from the accident.

McKinley obtained a judgment against Erie in Danville General District Court. Erie appealed, but McKinley prevailed again before Circuit Judge Stacey W. Moreau. Another appeal brought the parties before the Supreme Court.

Benefit for plaintiffs’ lawyers?

Roanoke attorney Kenneth J. Ries argued there was no legal precedent for a provider to assert a cause of action against a third-party’s liability carrier based on a claimant’s assignment.

“We submit that that cannot happen in Virginia; that has never happened in Virginia. There is no precedent for this to occur,” Ries told the justices in June. “A claimant may not validly assign to a medical provider something the claimant doesn’t have,” Ries continued.

Ries argued the patient had no relationship with the carrier at the time he signed the assignment form. He pointed to a Virginia statute, § 8.01-66.5, providing for lien notices against an injured party, the victim’s attorney and a tortfeasor. That defined list closes the door on lien notices to any others, Ries said.

McKinley’s lawyer, Stephen G. Bass of Danville, said enforcement of the assignment was proper since Erie essentially stood in the shoes of the tortfeasor.

“Erie suggests that McKinley should find his payment in Dodson’s pocket, but then that begs us to answer the question: Why is the money in Dodson’s pocket to begin with?” Bass said.

Bass argued the settlement money should have been regarded as “litigation proceeds.”

“We think factually, by virtue of the insuring agreement relationship between Hudson and Erie, they’re basically one and the same in the sense of the proceeds,” Bass argued to the court. “Once they settled it, the money became proceeds.”

“It’s not about taking an assignment of a direct action that Dodson had against Erie,” Bass continued. “It’s based upon Erie’s wrongful ignoring of the assignment and the lien of McKinley in paying all of the settlement proceeds – which were no longer entirely Dodson’s – all to Dodson.”

“The irony of this is, I suppose, this is going to be great for the plaintiff’s bar, because it’s going to force doctors and hospitals to drive all of their patients they’re going to treat into the hands of an attorney,” Bass said. “An attorney couldn’t get by with in it in this case,” he added. “They would be bound to honor these assignments.”

No cause for claimant to assign

The Supreme Court held that McKinley did not have a right to sue Erie, because Dodson never had a right to sue Erie.

Under Virginia law, an injured party possesses no right to recover tort damages from the tortfeasor’s insurer until reducing his claim to a judgment against the tortfeasor, the court said. Because Dodson never obtained a judgment against Hutson, no right against Erie could have “sprung into existence,” the two-page order read.

“Moreover, Dodson then relinquished all existing and future rights to recover tort damages from Hutson or Erie when he agreed to release them both from any claim in connection with the motor vehicle collision,” the court said.

The court reversed Moreau’s ruling and entered final judgment for Erie.

Want to read more? See Erie Ins. Co. v. McKinley Chiropractic Ctr., 2017 Va 134 (2017)

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com

Prosecutor: No charges in Haymarket police shooting

Westlake Legal Group 59c0094a6861b.image_-300x225 Prosecutor: No charges in Haymarket police shooting Prosecutor police shooting Haymarket police shooting Haymarket Police

By: The Associated Press September 20, 2017

McLEAN (AP) A Virginia police officer was justified in fatally shooting a 15-year-old boy who was advancing at him with a crowbar, a prosecutor ruled Tuesday.

Police on Tuesday identified the teen who was shot and killed Friday as Ruben Urbina of Haymarket.

At a press conference Tuesday, Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said the boy had mental problems and attempted suicide the night before.

On the day of the shooting, the boy called 911 and claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest, Ebert said. During the call, Ebert said the boy indicated he was holding his mother hostage and was willing to be shot by police.

Family members were unaware the boy had called 911, according to police.

When county police arrived, Ebert said officers saw the boy strike his brother’s girlfriend with a crowbar.

Ebert said the boy, wearing a heavy jacket, then advanced at one of the officers with the 3-foot crowbar, getting to within 10 feet of him before the officer fired two shots.

The boy died at the scene. He did not have a bomb, but Ebert said officers found out after the shooting that he was also carrying a knife.

The boy’s father, Oscar Urbina, told local news outlets Tuesday that he does not believe the shooting was justified and that his slightly built son could have been subdued with a stun gun.

None of the four officers at the scene were injured. Police on Tuesday identified the officer who fired the shots as Robert Choyce, 35, a 7-year veteran. While Ebert has closed the criminal investigation of the shooting, Police Chief Barry Barnard said an internal investigation is ongoing, but that “at this stage in our administrative investigation, the officer acted appropriately in response to dynamic circumstances.”

A police spokesman said Choyce is white. The spokesman declined to characterize Urbina’s race.

The girl who was struck with the crowbar was treated at a hospital and released.

Ebert said that despite concerns about the young man, “there comes a point in time where police have to do what they have to do.”

 

 

Jacqueline A. Kramer

Attorney at Law

Westlake Legal Group
46175 Westlake Drive, #320
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
(703) 406-7616
Fax: (703) 444-9498
jkramer@westlakelegal.com