NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Charges have now been filed against officers who shot and killed 43-year-old Henry Kistler Berry III during an altercation with a Tazer in December of 2019.
On Monday the Newport News Police Department said they were informed by the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office that charges had been filed in connection with the incident that happened in the 100 block of Nantucket Place.
When the incident happened Police Chief Steve Drew held a press conference to go over the incident.
Officers responded to address someone who Drew said had called multiple times. The victim started calling about different situations in Fairfax and other areas around 2 p.m., he said, and officers had been there earlier.
When officers responded Friday night, they intended to charge Berry with abusing the 911 system and tying up the line.
Drew described Berry as being in an "agitated state" when officers knocked on the door. He refused to step outside when asked to do so, according to police. After a short conversation and being asked a second time, Berry again refused, and Drew said he "darted" back inside the apartment and tried to slam the door on the responding officers.
The officers entered the apartment and tried to take control of Berry. Drew said there was a short struggle that started out with two officers, eventually increasing to four officers. The struggle then moved to the floor, and the suspect refused to be handcuffed. Drew said a female officer was seen patting the suspect's back trying to calm him down. The police chief said the responding officers asked Berry multiple times to put his hands behind his back and said that they told him he was being charged and placed under arrest.
One officer pulled out his Tazer and told Berry, "If you don't stop resisting, you will be Tazed," Drew said. Berry did not comply, and he was Tazed. Berry then grabbed the Tazer, and Drew said it was "pretty clear" at that point that two or three officers were likely Tazed.
This is when Sgt. Pearson drew his firearm and fired, striking Berry. Berry went down, and one officer ran to retrieve a medical bag.
Drew said the officers tried to perform CPR and other life-saving techniques, also calling for assistance. Berry was pronounced dead on scene.
As a result of an investigation, Sergeant Albin Pearson was charged with 2nd Degree Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, Reckless Handling of a Firearm Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, Shoot, Stab, Cut, or Wound in the Commission of a Felony, Entering Property to Damage or Interfere with Property Rights of Another and Assault & Battery.
Officer Dwight Pitterson was charged with Malicious Wounding, Shoot, Stab, Cut, or Wound in the Commission of a Felony, Entering Property to Damage or Interfere with Property Rights of Another, Assault & Battery, Both Sergeant Pearson and Officer Pitterson will be placed on administrative leave without pay.
“Our detectives worked diligently to investigate and present the facts for review by the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. This is an unfortunate and tragic situation for all those involved and we must now allow the judicial process to take its course,” Chief Steve Drew said on Monday. “The Newport News Police Department wishes to, once again, express our deepest condolences to the Berry Family.”