Norfolk’s commonwealth’s attorney sides with police in every case reviewed

Posted at 5:45 PM, Sep 08, 2014

Norfolk's top prosecutor has ruled police were justified in shooting an elderly mentally ill man in his apartment. It turns out in every single case reviewed by the commonwealth's attorney, he has sided with police.

The 72-year-old neighbor in an apartment tower was mentally ill, and he was getting sicker. Police were part of a team sent to help. Lawrence Faine grabbed a knife. Police shot him.

It was the second time that month police killed mentally ill men, provoking outrage from some on city council.

Councilman Paul Riddick said then he fully expected the prosecutor to side with police, and he was right.

There have been 15 police shootings in Norfolk since 2009.

The prosecutor has ruled 12 of them legally justified. Three are still under review.

Five of the shootings targeted unarmed drivers who the prosecutor said used their cars as weapons.

Only once do the records show police tried a Taser first. It didn't work.

And police dashboard video was helpful in none of the cases.

In fact, a cruiser's dashboard camera was rolling when police shot an unarmed driver at a Ghent bank, but the lens faced a brick wall.

“This is a classic example of if they had lapel video or some other kind of video on the body of the police officer, this would really become open and shut, and declare what did happen and what didn't happen,” says Attorney John Cooper.

John Cooper is suing police for shooting Joshua Johnson, who tried to escape officers at the bank. The prosecutor ruled the shooting justified, but Cooper's investigation disputes that. A federal judge said the family's lawsuit can move forward.


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