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Local News in Virginia

State Won’t Investigate S. Boston Taser Death

(Story compiled from wire services)

Despite demands from the Virginia NAACP, the Virginia SCLC and the family of Linwood Lambert, Attorney General Mark Herring said the state has no authority to investigate Lambert’s death. The 46-year-old man died after being struck repeatedly by Tasers used by South Boston, Virginia Police over two years ago.

Just recently, MSNBC shared images of a video it had obtained showing the officers shooting a handcuffed Lambert multiple times with Tasers. Black leaders across Virginia are frustrated that Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin still has not decided whether to charge the police officers for Lambert’s death.

On November 13, leaders urged Virginia’s Attorney General to take over the case. According to the Associated Press, Herring’s spokesman, Michael Kelly, said that local prosecutors usually have the exclusive responsibility of investigating crimes committed in their location. He said that Herring contacted NAACP leaders to hear their concerns.

“For two and a half years, a case such as this, and now after seeing physical video evidence, I don’t know why it would take so long,” said Kevin Chandler, who is the president of the Halifax NAACP.

“We do not have confidence in a Commonwealth’s Attorney in this city. We think the report has been taking too long,” said Jack Gravely, who is the Virginia NAACP Interim Executive Director. “We need an outside entity to come in and we’re calling for the justice department.”

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The NAACP is also asking that the officers involved in the incident be dismissed and the chief and deputy chief of the police department would resign.

On top of that, they’re asking for a ban on the use of Tasers by police until an investigation is done into how lethal they can be to humans. They also are asking for the governor to issue an executive order appointing a special prosecutor for cases when an unarmed civilian dies at the hands of law enforcement.

“Mr. Lambert had his body wrecked with what he was doing the day before and three police officers all over top of him and you show me where he presents a danger to other folk,” said Gravely.

Leaders said they plan to take their demands to state leaders. They said they’ll continue to support Lambert’s family until an outcome.

“We continue to stand up for what is right, continue to stand up for justice, and we want justice now,” said Chandler.

Lambert’s family filed a $25 million federal lawsuit against the South Boston Police Department. In a recent development, the lawyers representing the police officers reportedly asked the judge to strike the word “murder” from the lawsuit, and Lambert’s family agreed. A jury is expected to decide the civil case next year.

According to MSNBC, Lambert admitted to using cocaine on the night of May 4, 2013, when the police picked him up for his erratic behavior and were transporting him to a hospital emergency room.

Upon his arrival at the hospital, the video shows Lambert kicking out a window of the squad car from the back seat and running toward the ER – still in handcuffs.

At that point, the officers arrested him. The police officers discharged their Tasers several times into Lambert and then decided to take him to the police station instead of the emergency room.

The autopsy lists the cause of death as “acute cocaine intoxication.” Lambert had a relatively low amount (less than 0.01 milligrams/liter) of the drug in his blood, which MSNBC, quoting an expert, said could still account for the overdose.

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The autopsy also noted three taser wounds. But the medical examiner determined the cause of death without knowing that the officers had discharged their Tasers 20 times over a 30-minute period, the family’s lawyer said, according to MSNBC.

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