NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk prosecutors have decided to withdraw charges against a man who shot another customer at a Rite Aid store in 2012.
Norfolk’s Commonwealth’s attorney entered a nolle prosequi motion in the case against Bernell Benn on Wednesday. That means prosecutors will not pursue the charges at this time, but the charges could be brought back, if new evidence comes to light.
Benn was initially charged with murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, but the Commonwealth’s attorney later amended the indictments and proceeded with the case on one count of voluntary manslaughter and one count of discharging a firearm in a public building.
The case went to trial twice, but both times the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. Both trials ended in mistrial due to a hung jury. In Norfolk Circuit Court on Wednesday, prosecutors said they will not call for a third trial.
The Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney issued the following statement about that decision:
While both juries indicated the majority of jurors wanted to convict, a unanimous decision is what’s required. Respect for their service and careful consideration of several other factors, led this Office to conclude a third trial would likely not produce a different outcome. We certainly still believe in our work on this case and understand this decision is difficult for the victim’s family.
Been has always claimed he acted in self-defense when he and Ramon Colorado got into a fight over who was first in line at the pharmacy on Tidewater Drive.
During a jailhouse interview with WAVY.com after his August 16, 2012 arrest, Benn said Colorado jumped ahead of him in line. Benn said he verbally confronted Colorado, who then pepper-sprayed him. Police investigators say both men began shooting at each other.
Video: Footage from store surveillance cameras **The video shows the confrontation leading up to the shooting**
Both men were injured; Colorado died and Benn was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.
WAVY.com found Benn’s criminal record includes only misdemeanor disorderly conduct and traffic violations.
Colorado was well-known in the community under the online alias “Norfolk Dirt” and had worked as a deputy with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and as an auxiliary deputy with the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office, according to a spokesperson with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. The spokesperson told WAVY.com Colorado was terminated from both positions.