Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that he has completed his review of the investigation of the use of deadly force by an off-duty Portsmouth Police Officer in the discharge of his weapon at Courtney Andrew Hollomon on September 14, 2013, at approximately 10:10 a.m. The shooting occurred during Holloman’s attempted robbery of the Chartway Federal Credit Union on Ferrell Parkway in the City of Virginia Beach.
The investigation revealed that Holloman entered the credit union, masked and wearing all black clothing, and announced that it was a “bank robbery.” Witnesses described what appeared to be a black handgun, pointed in the direction of bank tellers.
Bryant’s review of the investigation in this case consisted of reports, observations, and an investigation conducted by an investigator in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office as well as an extensive report containing numerous interviews, photos, and other pertinent information prepared by the Homicide Squad of the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Detective Bureau.
The legal issue that Bryant must consider in connection with shooting incidents investigated by this office is whether the officer’s actions were “objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them.” Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985); Elliott v. Leavitt, 105 F3d 174 (4th Cir. 1996). Four years after Garner, the United States Supreme Court said, “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.” Graham v Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).
The pointing of an instrument that resembled a firearm in the direction of the police officer, along with the announcement of the “bank robbery”, was sufficient legal justification for the officer to use deadly force to protect himself and others. There was no possible way for the officer to know or have any suspicion that the object carried and brandished by Hollomon was not in fact a real firearm.
Based upon the law and the substantial evidence in this matter, it is Bryant’s opinion that the officer was within his legal authority and justified in the use of deadly force in the situation as it presented itself. His actions were appropriate under the circumstances, and were initiated to protect other citizens, bank employees, and himself from serious bodily injury or death. Therefore, as Bryant previously advised Portsmouth Police Chief Hargis verbally, no charges will be prosecuted by this office against the Portsmouth officer for his conduct in this case.
Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.