01/04/2014

Officers cleared in fatal shooting of Va. man

Officer Steven Brown and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agent Suzanne Marsteller each fired once at Shane Whitworth after he leveled a gun at them during a showdown

By Kathy Adams
The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH — Prosecutors have determined two officers who shot and killed a 30-year-old gunman in October were justified in their use of force and will not face criminal charges, according to a letter sent today to city officials.

Virginia Beach police Officer Steven Brown and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agent Suzanne Marsteller each fired once at Shane Whitworth after he leveled a gun at them during a showdown Oct. 30 in the backyard of his home and a neighbor's home, according to the letter addressed to City Manager Jim Spore and police Chief Jim Cervera from Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle. Whitworth died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

It is unclear which officer fired the fatal shot, said Macie Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, which reviews officer-involved shootings. Marsteller was assisting Brown with the Virginia Beach Police Department's annual "Locktoberfest" warrant sweep when they were called to Whitworth's home after his wife told a 911 operator he was threatening to harm himself.

Police evacuated Jessica Whitworth and the couple's 5-year-old daughter from the home on Bay Cove Quay in the Aragona Village area. Jessica Whitworth said her husband had struggled with opiate addiction and attempted suicide in the past, according to the letter.

Shane Whitworth fired his gun at least once during the incident and said, "I'm not afraid to die ... I have a gun; I will shoot; I will shoot you and everybody around here," the letter said.

Copyright 2014 The Virginian-Pilot


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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