Commonwealth’s Attorney rules 2016 Norfolk officer-involved shooting justified

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NORFOLK, Va. – Commonwealth’s Attorney Gregory D. Underwood ruled that the Norfolk Police officer-involved shooting that left a man wounded last year was justified, according to a letter sent Friday.

No charges will be sought in the incident that left Linwood Raynor injured after being shot by Norfolk Police Officer J. Beasley. It was ruled that he reacted with reasonable force in an act of self-defense.

On April 22, 2016 at approximately 4:26 p.m., the Norfolk Police Department responded to a call of a barricaded armed person in the 1300 block of Church Street in Norfolk.

While responding, officers heard multiple unrelated gunshots nearby around O’Keefe and Fremont Streets at approximately 7:06 p.m. Officer Beasley ran toward the source of the gunshots to provide assistance. As he moved toward the intersection, he heard a burst of gunfire on Fremont Street and was directly confronted by Linwood Raynor holding a handgun and pointing it down Freemont Street while pulling on a motionless second man, Linwood’s brother Deandre Raynor.

With his service weapon pulled, Officer Beasley verbally challenged Linwood Raynor, who then turned toward Officer Beaseley with his handgun in a potential firing position. Officer Beasley stated he thought Linwood Raynor fired at him, to which he responded by firing his service weapon, which struck Raynor twice – once in each leg.

Other member of the Norfolk Police Department arrived at the scene and pulled Deandre Raynor’s body to safety, performing CPR on him until paramedics arrived. Others tended to Linwood Raynor, who was then transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he was treated for the gunshot wounds to his legs and released.

Deandre Raynor died from his gunshot wounds during the earlier shooting on Fremont Street.

The investigation was conducted by the Virginia State Police. During the investigation, Linwood Raynor confirmed that Deandre Raynor had sustained fatal gunshot wounds during an earlier exchange of gunfire with a person he identified to investigator as “Jeff” (full name Lawrence Jeffrey Brown). Brown was charged with the murder of Deandre Raynor.

Linwood Raynor also told VSP that he believed that the person who turned out to be Officer Beasley yelling at him might have been one of Jeff’s friends who had been shooting at them. Once he realized that it was a police officer, he said he dropped his handgun admittedly after “the officer had already fired” on him. He also admitted that he was returning gunfire at Jeff, who Linwood Raynor said shot Deandre Raynor at the time Officer Beasley challenged him and fired.

Officer Beasley told investigators that he fired his service weapon to protect himself and any other residents in the area who might have been in danger from Linwood’s handgun and the fact that he heard multiple gunshots and observed a shooting victim (Deandre Raynor) who he thought to be in danger.

Although Officer Beasley’s body camera was not positioned in a way that was able to capture the actual shooting, the sound recording confirms that the officer gave Linwood verbal commands – which appeared to be instructions for Linwood Raynor to drop his gun – before firing his service weapon.

Officer Beasley returned to duty with the Norfolk Police Department in April 2017.

Brown’s case was presented to a jury during trial on May 2, 2017. He was found not guilty of all charges on May 5.