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Roanoke prosecutor finds officer who fatally shot suspect acted properly, in self-defense

A segment of body camera footage showing the June 25 officer-involved shooting outside the Ashton Heights apartment complex. In an overview released Nov. 9, at the conclusion of an outside investigation, Commonwealth's Attorney Donald Caldwell said the gunfire began when Rasheed Mathew Moorman was fleeing from police, turned his upper body while still running and began firing a handgun. The police returned fire. Caldwell concluded the police acted in self-defense.

This clip shows the first 30 seconds of the full video, which is nearly 3 minutes long, ending just before Moorman was shot. Following the normal-speed video is slow-motion version of the last several seconds of the clip.

The Roanoke police officer who shot and killed a man during a summertime confrontation acted properly and in self-defense, the city prosecutor determined Monday.

The announcement concerns a June 25 exchange of gunfire between Rasheed Mathew Moorman, 26, and a Roanoke officer at the Ashton Heights Apartments complex off 35th Street Northwest.

Police have said that shortly after 3 p.m., officers approached Moorman and another man, a suspect in a recent shooting injury at the same complex. The two men fled, police said, and, as they ran, Moorman drew a pistol and fired. An officer returned fire, striking Moorman, who died at the hospital later that day.

Rasheed Mathew Moorman

Moorman

Based on city policy, Virginia State Police opened an independent investigation of the shooting and their findings were turned over to Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell.

In a news release Monday, Caldwell said, “Only after Mr. Moorman made the decision to initiate the use of deadly force, did the officer fire upon Mr. Moorman. ...

“By introducing a pistol and firing it multiple times ... Mr. Moorman placed officers, and others nearby, in reasonable fear of death or severe bodily injury, and therefore was shot and killed in self-defense,” Caldwell said.

He said that the officer who fired the fatal rounds had previously attempted to resolve the chase peacefully, and that the police “acted properly, within the scope of their legal authority.”

Caldwell’s narrative also offered new details about the incident.

He said a detective spotted Moorman earlier that day walking with a man police believed had been involved in a June 22 non-fatal shooting in an Ashton Heights parking lot. That’s why officers first approached them, he said.

The report said the officers’ body cameras captured footage of Moorman firing four shots during the pursuit. Two of his rounds struck an apartment occupied by a mother and child, and a third hit a nearby police vehicle, but no injuries were reported.

Officer J.P. Bourgeois, giving chase on foot, fired 10 rounds, three of which hit Moorman — in the rear upper left leg, in the right buttock and in the right rear side. That third round “passed through multiple internal organs and ultimately proved lethal,” the report said.

Another officer who was in the car that was hit also fired a round at Moorman from his vehicle, but the report does not say what resulted from that shot.

According to Caldwell, Bourgeois and the other officer who fired on Moorman attempted to give him medical aid.

The weapon Moorman used, a Glock 23, was also forensically linked to shells found at the scene of the June 22 shooting.

As of Monday, no charges appear to have been filed against the man Moorman was with during the incident.

In July 2014, Moorman was shot and injured by the intended victim of a failed hold-up. Moorman recovered, later pleaded no contest to attempted robbery and was sentenced to two years in prison for the incident. After an investigation, prosecutors declined to seek charges against the man who fired the shots, citing self-defense.

Contact Neil Harvey at neil.harvey@roanoke.com or 981-3376. Follow him on Twitter @neilharveytweet.

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