Norfolk officer will testify in own defense at manslaughter trial

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Norfolk police officer accused of voluntary manslaughter is expected to testify in his own defense when his trial begins next month.

Officer Michael Edington, Jr. is charged in the 2014 shooting death of 35-year-old David Latham, who officers said refused to put down a knife at a home in the Park Place neighborhood. Family members said Latham suffered from mental illness.

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According to a court transcript of a closed door meeting this week, the defense has information that Latham told officers, “I’m not dropping the (expletive) knife.” The paperwork said Edington will testify that he believed Latham, weighing 273 pounds, was going to launch himself at the officer from up above him on the porch.

The transcript also reveals that against the defense’s objection, a fellow officer will be able to testify about a statement Edington allegedly made about a month after the shooting. According to the documents, he is expected to say that Edington and another officer with a pocket knife were horseplaying, and that Edington said, “You remember the last guy that was playing with a knife? What happened to him?”

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The defense called it an attempt make it look like Edington doesn’t take the shooting seriously and argued it would inflame a jury, without shedding light on what happened the moment the officer pulled the trigger. Prosecutors said the alleged statement was “highly relevant” and jurors should be able to hear it when determining whether Edington reasonably feared for his safety at the time of the shooting.

An attorney for the Latham family had no comment on the information in the transcript.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday, September 26 with jury selection. You can count on WAVY News 10 to bring you live coverage.

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