Conflicting accounts of police-involved shooting in Suffolk

28-year-old Corey Achstein was killed on Dec. 28

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The family of a Suffolk man is looking for answers — after 28-year-old Corey Achstein was killed in an officer-involved shooting in late December. They called 10 On Your Side because they have unanswered questions about the shooting death of their son.

28-year-old Corey Achstein
Corey Achstein

“This is actually the first time that I have walked down here. It’s hard,” said Ginnie Kinsey who is Achstein’s mother. “This is where my son’s life ended right here.”

Kinsey was standing at the corner of Causey and Virginia Avenues, where on the night of December 28 at 5:15, her son was shot and would die two hours later. She stood there with her husband John, and Corey’s biological father Steve Achstein.

“We asked a lot of questions and expected a lot of answers. We get more questions and want more answers,” explained Corey’s father.

10 On Your Side started looking for those answers. A source said Corey was shot in the back by Suffolk Police Officer James Babor. At our urging, Corey’s mother and stepfather got the autopsy report from the Medical Examiner to confirm that. That report confirms, Corey died from a “gunshot wound entering the right back and exiting the right chest with injury to the lung.” Ginney cried as she reviewed the report, “How was he a danger? How was he a danger to anybody? He has his back facing you, and you shoot him in the back? Why? Why?”

More troubling for the family, the autopsy report does not state this, but our source says Corey was sitting on the ground with his back to Officer Babor when he was shot. Ginney says of Officer Babor, “I’m outraged.”

Autopsy Report | Medical Examiner’s Certificate

Suffolk Police claim Corey was shot “upon actions of the suspect and concern for safety.” Ginnie’s husband, John, says, “He’s already on the ground, and you shoot him in the back? Why?”

The beginning of the end for Corey Achstein began at 5 p.m. December 28 after a friend dropped Corey off at his apartment. The friend watches Corey unlock his second floor apartment door and enter. For some unknown reason Corey leaves his apartment shortly after that and goes to the street below. Within 15 minutes, he’s shot. It is a very small window of time, and we don’t know why, but Corey started following three juveniles and five neighbors confirm to us he was acting in a bizarre way. He was pacing, screaming out of control. Neighbor Candy

Holland said she saw Corey with a gun and called police to the scene. “He started screaming. A whole lot of profanity. He had a gun and then he started threatening them that he was going to kill one of them,” Holland recalled.

10 On Your Side found one of the teens Corey was following. He refused to stop walking, was soft-spoken, wouldn’t say much, but we did get out of him that “He was fussing at me…he had a gun…and then we ran.”

After Corey was shot his parents wanted answers, but they claim all they got were lies. “The detective says he’s been shot. Of course my first question is who the hell shot him? His answer to me is, and this is why I have no respect for them, we have two suspects we’re looking for.” Two suspects? It was clear from the start the shooter wasn’t ‘two suspects’ as the detective stated; it was Officer Babor. “I feel like they are hiding something,” said Ginnie, who found out from WAVY News that this was a “police-involved shooting.”

They want to know why police were already in Corey’s apartment before they got a search warrant accusing Corey of malicious wounding, and they got that search warrant one hour after Corey had died. There is no evidence Corey hurt anyone, and according to the search warrant return police found nothing they were looking for inside his apartment, which included drugs. The autopsy report does not include a Postmortem Toxicology Report which would indicate what, if any, drugs were in his body at the time of death. The Kinseys were told that report could take 12-15 weeks, and it could explain his erratic behavior, then again it may not.

Police claim on the first two warrants, “officers arrived and found a subject in the middle of the street with a gun in his hand.” We asked Holland when she saw Corey going after the cop, did he have a gun in his hand? Holland responded immediately, “Yes.” Steve Achstein was told by another neighbor , “He didn’t have anything in his hands and they were up.”

We found conflicting eyewitnesses accounts, and evolving police reports. Police first claimed Corey “had gun in his hand”, but the later warrants stated only that “Officers arrived and encountered the suspect who was causing the disturbance.” The earlier “had gun in his hand” is gone on the later warrants.

December 28 Warrants | January 3 Warrants

Holland continued, “He was just beyond anger. He was screaming and hollering at the police officer and all of a sudden I heard a gunshot and that was it.”

We found a man who said he was close enough to hear Corey’s last words just after Officer Babor shot him. He does not want to be identified but told us on the phone, “The young man said to the cop ‘hey bro you just f***ing shot me, bro.’ I heard a female voice say ‘I found a gun’ and that’s when the young man who was shot says ‘it is not a real gun; it is a fake gun.'” We asked Ginnie about that, “He did at one point have a BB gun, but it was broken in two.” Police found “a realistic style pneumatic BB gun… in “close proximity.” Police won’t define “close proximity” but it appears Corey had dropped the gun before Officer Babor fired his gun.

The autopsy report states “Bullet – none recovered from the body.” Now we know why on December 29 several police officers were back out on Causey Avenue looking for something. We know they were looking for the bullet fragment that had exited Corey’s body.

At a fresh grave site in Suffolk, Ginnie and John visit Corey, “I come here to talk to him, and he doesn’t answer.” On the coldest day of the year, it seemed appropriate to meet Corey’s parents at the grave site, “We want to see the evidence that justifies the shooting of our son,” said John Kinsey. “If there is none, then we want to see that as well. I want to know what happened to him, and I want to know the why of what happened to him,” Ginnie said. John then finished her statement, “We want to know the truth.”

Officer Babor was involved in another shooting in 2010 that left a man dead. In that case, Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson found “It is my opinion that there is insufficient evidence of criminal misconduct on the part of Officers Langston and Babor in this case. Therefore, this office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers.”

10 On Your Side contacted Suffolk Police on several occasions to respond to our report. They e-mailed this:

“Our comment is that the Suffolk Police Department is still conducting both the criminal and internal affairs investigations related to the case. No further information, including body camera video, will be released until after the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has reviewed the case,” Diana Klink, Director, Media & Community Relations.

Both officers involved in the Achstein case are back on paid administrative duties within the Suffolk Police Department. They are Officer James Babor and Officer Cheryl Abrigo.

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