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Roanoke County police expand use of beanbag guns following fatal shooting

July 6, 2016 | Virginia News

By Amy Friedenberger | The Roanoke Times

A 24-year-old man stood in a driveway on a May afternoon with a machete held over his shoulder. “Kill me,” he yelled at two Roanoke County police officers.

He approached the officers, who pointed their guns at him and asked that he put the machete down, police spokeswoman Amy Whittaker said. They tried to talk to him to calm him down.

Officers deployed a Taser, but it did not work, Whittaker said. A police dog arrived to the house on Copper Circle, which aggravated the man.

He continued to tell police he wanted to die. At one point, he sliced his arm and threatened to cut his stomach and head, Whittaker said.

Eventually, an officer fired three beanbag rounds, striking the man at least once in the hand, Whittaker said. He threw the machete down a few feet away and lay down on the driveway, allowing officers to handcuff him.

“There was a situation that wasn’t that far away from being another tragedy,” Chief Howard Hall said.

The incident happened May 27, just two days after Hall discussed the final results in his department’s investigation into the police shooting death of 18-year-old Kionte Spencer. The shooting prompted the department to review the number of beanbag guns it has and how to expand the less-lethal weapons to more officers. ...

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