No charges in Newport News officer-involved shooting

Posted at 11:17 AM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 11:17:53-05

Newport News, Va. - The Commonwealth's Attorney will not file charges against the officer who killed 23-year-old Kawanza Jamal Beaty in 2015, according to an attorney for Beaty's family.

Howard Gwynn announced today that the Narcotics Detective who shot Beaty, Detective Gibson, was justified in using deadly force.

"No matter what the law says, they can’t bring my grandson back, they can’t feel my heart, they can’t feel the stress on this family," says Shirley McPhatter, Beaty's grandmother.

Beaty was shot by a police officer on July 4, 2015 after he allegedly pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at officers.

Police were responding to reports of a man armed with a shotgun. Investigators say when they approached Beaty, he ran, eventually turning around and pointing a shotgun at police. That's when a Newport News Police Narcotics Detective reportedly fired three shots at Beaty.

A report released today by Commonwealth's Attorney Gwynn stated that a confidential witness, who has helped with several Newport News police investigations in the past, notified Detective Gibson about a man who was armed with a sawed off shotgun in the Stuart Gardens area.

He eventually found the man who matched that description, Kawanza Beaty.

The report says Detective Gibson, along with the two officers he called for back-up, Master Police Officer Keller and Sergeant Sinclair, saw Beaty walking with a stiff arm and believed he was carrying a weapon as the witness told them.

The report says Emmanuel Dargan, who was with Beaty before he was killed, heard officers give Beaty multiple commands to drop his weapon after he ran off from them.

Gwynn also says all three officers saw Beaty point his weapon towards Sergeant Sinclair and feared he was going to shoot when Detective Gibson stepped in and shot him first.

"It's still not justified to shoot him in the back of the head," McPhatter.

Gwynn says when the officer has the right to use deadly force, it doesn't matter where on the body they shoot.

He also says they did not consider Detective Gibson's history and that he was involved in another police shooting.

"It's troubling, put it that way," says John Ellenson.

Ellenson is representing Beaty's family in a civil suit against the City of Newport News for a wrongful death. He says that case is pending and will go to trial in February of 2017 in Federal Court.

The Newport News Police Department says they completed their internal investigation two weeks ago and found that all three officers acted in policy. They say Detective Gibson has been on modified duty, but after the Commonwealth's Attorney's findings, they will talking with him about restoring him to full duty.

In the meantime, Beaty's family says they are not giving up.

"This is not the end, that’s all I gotta say," says McPhatter. "We are going to fight this to the end."


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