NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A special grand jury has indicted a Norfolk police officer for the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man last year.
The special grand jury process began Monday in Norfolk Circuit Court and ended Thursday with the indictment of Officer Michael Carlton Edington Jr. on one count of voluntary manslaughter.
Norfolk City Mayor Paul Fraim is expected to make a public statement on the steps of city hall at 6:30 p.m.
According to Norfolk Commonwealth’s attorney spokeswoman Amanda Howie, the indictment came after jury members reviewed evidence and heard “2-and-a-half days of sworn testimony from more than a dozen people.”
The nine-member jury also chose not to indict Edington on two other charges presented in the case: second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
Norfolk police have said 35-year-old David Latham was shot at his home June 6, 2014, after he threatened the officer with a knife. According to a medical examiner’s report, Latham was shot eight times, including twice in the chest and twice in the back.
Latham’s mother, Audrey Latham, has said that her son had schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication. She also has said police came to the family’s home in the past to help her son obtain psychiatric care.
The Latham family attorney, John Cooper, released the following statement to WAVY.com over the phone after Thursday’s announcement:
The family is pleased the criminal case will go forward. They are looking for justice for their son. They are pleased the grand jury found there is sufficient evidence to indict, but they know there is still work to be done. The criminal case will be a public trial. We feel it is good because everyone will be able to know what happened. We are pleased the court system seems to be working. From everyone knowing what happened here, we can prevent this from happening to other families.
Howie said the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office would make no further comment on the case, as it is now criminal and will be prosecuted by the Commonwealth’s attorney.
Several top city officials released the following statements, after the indictment was announced Thursday.
Chief Michael Goldsmith, Norfolk Police Department:
This incident was tragic for the family of Mr. Latham and the City of Norfolk. I ask the public not rush to judgment and exercise patience while the case proceeds through the justice system. Norfolk police officers will continue to work hard to protect our communities and build relationships with our neighbors. These officers put their lives on the line every day and have my full support as we move forward.
Norfolk City Mayor Paul Fraim:
The Special Grand Jury has reviewed the facts of this case and rendered its decision. The process followed is in accordance with the law and deserves our respect. Under Chief Goldsmith’s professional leadership, our public safety officers continue the difficult work of preserving peace and justice for all in our diverse community and they have my support. I also want to express our condolences to the Latham family for their tragic loss.
Norfolk City Manager Marcus Jones:
The death of David Latham is a tragedy shared by the whole community, residents, police officers and city leaders. Chief Michael Goldsmith has worked tirelessly to implement best training practices throughout the department and I support his efforts. Norfolk police officers, along with city staff, are building partnerships with our neighbors and businesses and we will move forward together by working together.