Sheriff: Dangerous fugitive killed in deputy-involved shooting

A mugshot of Damien Alexander Harrell from March 2014 (Photo courtesy Newport News Police Department).

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A dangerous fugitive with an extensive criminal history on the Peninsula is now dead. York-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs said a deputy fatally shot the man when he pulled a loaded gun from his waistband during a confrontation Wednesday morning.

(WAVY/Lavoy Harrell)
(WAVY/Lavoy Harrell)

During a press conference, Diggs said the incident began around 6:30 a.m. when three deputies came upon the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Fort Eustis Boulevard. It appeared as though the vehicle had spun out of control. The deputies stopped to investigate and found a man about 200 yards from the car.

According to deputies, the man would not give them his real name. During the press conference, Diggs showed a deputy’s body-camera video that showed the deputy asking for the suspect’s name and the suspect giving the deputy several variations of the name.

About 15 minutes into the questioning, the video showed the suspect reaching into his waistband and pulling out a gun. At that point, the video showed the deputy firing about six shots.

Ivey later confirmed the suspect’s gun was found loaded with one bullet in the chamber, and the safety was off.

Deputies questioned another man on the scene about the accident, when they say he became uncooperative. Diggs said that man was Tazed and taken into custody. WAVY.com confirmed Thursday that man will not face charges pertaining to this incident.

No deputies were injured.

The suspect was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He has been identified as 26-year-old Damien A. Harrell, of Newport News.

At the time of his death, Harrell was wanted in Newport News for a list of charges. He also has a long history of criminal convictions, for which he served multiple jail sentences and was on active probation. Ivey said law enforcement considered him armed and dangerous with violent tendencies.

A mugshot of Damien Alexander Harrell from March 2014 (Photo courtesy Newport News Police Department).
A mugshot of Damien Alexander Harrell from March 2014 (Photo courtesy Newport News Police Department).

Most recently, Harrell was charged with failure to appear for a missed court appearance on June 1 for the following charges, stemming from an incident in October 2013:

  • possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • brandishing a firearm
  • grand larceny of a firearm

He was also wanted for unauthorized use of a vehicle, assault and failure to appear for an incident in May. There is also a permanent protective order that prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Harrell was previously found guilty of a 2004 robbery, a 2005 robbery, unlawful wounding during a 2004 assault, and use of a firearm in commission of a 2004 felony and a 2005 felony. In total, Harrell was sentenced to 9 years in prison for those convictions.

The entire incident Wednesday morning was captured on the deputy’s body camera. In an effort to be transparent to the public, Sheriff Diggs showed that video to the media during Wednesday’s press conference. However, he did not give a copy of the video to the media and cannot make the video public because of the ongoing investigation, Ivey said.

Ft. Eustis Blvd. was closed between Richneck Road and Route 17 for almost eight hours, while officials investigated the scene. The roadway reopened just after 2:30 p.m.

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