Fatal shooting of Lynchburg suspect by officer ruled justifiable

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:37 AM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The fatal police shooting of a suspect in Lynchburg has been ruled justifiable by the city’s commonwealth’s attorney.

Ryheam Damon Brown, 25 of Lynchburg was shot by a Lynchburg Police officer February 2, 2023 after Brown allegedly ran from police, who had pulled him over in traffic. The traffic stop was based on police believing the car he was driving had been involved in reports of a shooting.

LPD Officer John Person, as identified by Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison, shot Brown after Brown pulled a gun in the officer’s presence, according to Harrison.

Harrison says, based on evidence including the officer’s body-worn camera footage, Officer Person had a reasonable belief he was in danger and was justified in using self defense:

The use of deadly force was in justifiable self-defense and was not excessive. The 6 shots fired at Brown’s torso are consistent with the training the officer received at the Central Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. This training indicates that if the use of deadly force is warranted the officer will shoot at center mass to stop the threat and that the officer is not to shoot to wound nor can the officer fire warning shots. The series of 6 shots is also consistent with his training exercises in the use of firearms.

After viewing the BWC footage, I can understand that there could be a thought that Brown intended to run away. I can only factually state that Brown ignored the officer’s repeated commands to stop and the officer’s final command to put the gun down before standing back up and turning to his right. Even if we factor in the possibility that Brown turned intending to run away, the analysis of self-defense remains the same.

Below is the entire report by the commonwealth’s attorney’s office:

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The following photos from the scene were shown at a news conference March 8.