WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - A deputy with the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office has been placed on administrative leave after he accidentally discharged his firearm during a traffic stop in the City of Williamsburg Thursday.
Around 6:40 p.m. on February 21, a deputy tried to stop a vehicle near the Advance Auto Parts on Merrimac Trail for not using headlights. The vehicle, which had two people inside, came to a stop at the entrance to Parkway Apartments on Merrimac Trail, which is about 500 feet over the county line into the City of Williamsburg.
As the deputy approached the vehicle, the driver's side door swung open and the deputy accidentally discharged his firearm. The sheriff's office says the firearm was never pointed at the people inside the vehicle.
Officials say it appears the bullet hit the ground, ricocheted and hit the bottom of the driver's side door.
A witness, not wanting to be identified, told News 3 both of the women who were pulled over are in law school and speak limited English.
"They put the young ladies in handcuffs. They were in handcuffs for 30 minutes and the police were on the scene for about a total of two hours. Before they left, they didn't tell anybody in the community what happened other than that no person was at large and everybody was safe," recalls the witness.
No one was hurt during the incident.
The woman who witnessed the situation unfold says she fears it could have escalated into something much worse.
"I feel horrified for them. They're terrified. I mean, I would be. Could you imagine calling your parents and you're living in a foreign country telling them, 'Oh, the police shot at us?'"
The deputy's name is being withheld because this incident is being handled as an internal personnel matter by the sheriff's office. The deputy has been placed on administrative leave pending a completed full investigation.
The Williamsburg Police Department is also investigating because the incident happened just inside city limits.
"Anything than a less-than-perfect response regarding an interaction between police and citizens is something that should be reviewed. This was an unfortunate accident with no malice or ill intent towards the occupants of the occupants of the vehicle," said Sheriff Diggs. "Thankfully, no one was injured in this event. We understand how an accidental discharge like this can have an impact on the community, and we would like to express our sincerest apology to anyone who has been negatively impacted by this."