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Jerome Uzzle - OIS Memorandum

June 17, 2020

For Immediate Release

Newport News, Virginia

 
 

MEMORANDUM

The Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office has completed its review of all available evidence from the August 17, 2019 shooting of Mr. Jerome Uzzle. Virginia Law requires us to analyze the facts surrounding an officer’s use of deadly force through the eyes of the officer involved. Therefore, we examine this incident by considering what the officer knew in the moments leading up to the shooting, and whether it was reasonable for the officer who discharged his firearm to believe that there was an imminent threat of serious bodily harm to himself or others.


Less than two hours before the officer involved shooting, Chandra Eason was found deceased behind the wheel of her motor vehicle at the Circle K gas station in Newport News, Virginia.  She was the victim of multiple gunshot wounds.  Detectives examined surveillance video from the gas station and identified Jerome Uzzle as the suspect.  Uzzle was observed driving his Chrysler 300 from the scene, and police proceeded to his known residences to search for Uzzle.  One of those residences was 5708 Madison Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.


Newport News Police Officer Mark Stewart and his civilian ride-along were parked in the 700 block of Peninsula Drive when Uzzle approached the driver’s side window of Stewart’s marked police vehicle and fired multiple rounds from his 9mm firearm into the vehicle.  Officer Stewart was able to return two shots from his service weapon before it misfired and became inoperable.  Both occupants of the police vehicle were shot and sustained serious injuries.  This shooting was directly observed by Officer Branden Kidder whose police vehicle was parked around the corner from Officer Stewart’s vehicle.  Kidder immediately re-positioned his car to get closer and opened fire on the armed suspect as soon as he exited his police vehicle.  Uzzle fled on foot through the apartment complex.  Uzzle was shot twice, once in the torso and once in the thigh, and was apprehended seconds thereafter when he fell to the ground.  Uzzle succumbed to his injuries several hours later while at Riverside Regional Medical Center. 


Medical examiner, Dr. Gunther, stated in her Report of Autopsy on Jerome Uzzle that death was due to a gunshot wound to the torso.  Lab analysis confirmed that the bullet removed from Uzzle’s body at autopsy was fired from Officer Kidder’s firearm.  The same lab analysis also confirmed that the firearm used by Uzzle to shoot Officer Stewart and his civilian ride-along was the same firearm used to kill Chandra Eason two hours before.


When a police officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to others, he may use deadly force to prevent that harm. Couture v. Commonwealth, 656 S.E. 2d 425, 427 (Va. App. 2008). An officer’s use of deadly force is justified when he perceives an imminent threat of serious bodily harm to himself or others. Lynn v. Commonwealth, 499 S.E.2d 1, 9 (Va. App. 1998); Couture, 656 S.E.2d at 427. Therefore, we analyze the circumstances by considering what Officer Kidder would have reasonably believed in the moments just prior to discharging his department-issued firearm.


Based on these facts, it is clear that Jerome Uzzle posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm to members of the public as well as to officers in his vicinity. Therefore, Officer Kidder’s use of deadly force in the death of Mr. Uzzle was justified by the facts and the law. This office will take no further action in this matter


Couture v. Commonwealth, 656 S.E. 2d 425, 427 (Va. App. 2008).

 

 

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