Grand jury indicts Virginia cop for fatally shooting mentally ill black man ‘like a dog’
A grand jury in Norfolk, Virginia indicted a local police officer on Thursday in connection with the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man last June, WTKR-TV reported.
The panel opted to charge Officer Michael Carlton Edington, Jr. on one charge of voluntary manslaughter for shooting and killing 35-year-old David Latham. The grand jury selected the manslaughter charge instead of two heavier charges, second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
“I just want to say that I’m glad the justice system is working out and that we are on the right path,” Latham’s mother, Audrey, told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
The grand jury was called by Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood’s office, and was the first such panel called in the area in connection with a fatal police shooting since 2008. When asked whether another officer had ever been indicted in such circumstances during her 10 years working for Underwood’s office, spokesperson Amanda Howie said, “Not to my knowledge.”
Edington was one of four officers who went to Latham’s home on June 6, 2014, after his mother told a dispatcher that he had grabbed a knife. Latham was living with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and police had been called out to the residence several times since he and his mother moved there in March 2013. However, Edington had not been involved in any of those calls.
“We kind of trusted them,” Audrey Latham said to the Virginian-Pilot earlier this month. “A lot of times they would come out and talk with David.”
When Edington and the other officers arrived at the house, David Latham was on his porch, holding the knife. His mother said Edington ordered her son twice to drop the knife, then opened fired. Latham was shot at least six times.
“[Edington] was just trigger happy,” Audrey Latham said the day after the shooting. “I don’t know if he was fearful or what, but he didn’t give my son any time to think. They shot him like a dog.”
Edington has been on administrative leave since the shooting. Police Chief Michael Goldsmith urged residents in a statement not to rush to judgment.
“These officers put their lives on the line every day and have my full support as we move forward,” Goldsmith said.
Watch WTKR’s report on the indictment, as aired on Thursday, below.