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Va. police probe officer's shooting of man on street from inside squad

A Chesapeake police officer was inside a squad car last Thursday when he shot an unarmed man standing in front of him in Portsmouth

By Scott Daugherty
The Virginian-Pilot

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Chesapeake police officer was inside a squad car last Thursday when he shot an unarmed man standing in front of him in Portsmouth.

It is unclear why the officer discharged his firearm. Detective Misty Holley, a spokeswoman for the Portsmouth Police Department, said detectives still are investigating.

The man who was shot said he didn't have a weapon.

"I didn't do nothing," said Michael L. Smith, 27, who was wanted on felony warrants in Maryland and is being held at the Portsmouth City Jail pending extradition.

Smith said he was walking from Wal-Mart to his mother's place when he heard a loud bang and felt a sharp pain in his right side. The bullet, he said, grazed his right arm before entering his chest.

"It was bad," Smith said. "I couldn't breathe or anything." It felt worse than the last time he was shot more than a decade ago, he said. "That was just a .22."

No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting. Holley declined to identify the officer but said the Chesapeake Police Department assigned him to administrative duties, which she described as standard operating procedure. Chesapeake police Chief Kelvin Wright has said the officer has worked there more than 10 years.

The shooting occurred about 2:20 p.m. near the intersection of Cumberland Avenue and South Street. Smith was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Smith was served a fugitive warrant Friday based on his charges in Elkton, Md., which included burglary and felony theft. The charges stemmed from a burglary of firearms May 25, said Cpl. Andrew Tuer of the Elkton Police Department.

According to Holley, the officer who shot Smith was part of a joint task force involving members of the Police Department and Sheriff's Office in Chesapeake. She explained they started looking for Smith after getting a call from the Elkton Police Department indicating he might be in the area.

The initial tip was that Smith was in Chesapeake, but officers eventually tracked him to Portsmouth. Holley said the task force requested assistance from the

Portsmouth Police Department's Fugitive Unit after confirming Smith's location.

Holley said the Chesapeake officer spotted Smith walking and moved in to make an arrest before the fugitive unit arrived. She said the officer's gun went off while the officer was inside his unmarked vehicle.

Smith said he spotted the car driving behind him as he walked down South Street. He said he stopped and lit a cigarette and looked at it for a moment before turning on Cumberland.

A moment later, the officer fired without warning, he said.

"I had a cigarette in my left hand and a Wal-Mart bag in the right," said Smith, explaining he had two steaks and some shrimp in the bag. "That's it."

Smith said he doesn't have a problem with police and wouldn't have tried to run or fight if the officer had identified himself before shooting.

When the investigation is complete, Portsmouth Commonwealth's Attorney Earle Mobley will review it.

Copyright 2014 The Virginian-Pilot

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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