NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Witness testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of a Norfolk police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Michael Edington, Jr. is charged in the 2014 shooting death of 35-year-old David Latham, who officers say refused to drop a knife during a 2014 encounter.
Several officers who worked with Edington took the stand Wednesday. Some said Edington took the May 2014 loss of fellow Norfolk police officer Brian Jones hard. Jones died after a suspect in the shooting death of a teenager opened fire on Jones, according to police. Despite his grief, Edington’s supervisor testified the officer was still able to do his job.
Days after Jones’ death, on June 6, Edington and other officers responded to a home in the Park Place neighborhood for a report of an armed man. The first officer on the scene said he did not know Latham suffered from mental illness.
Another witness testified that three responding officers had guns drawn and told Latham to drop the knife approximately ten times. He said he holstered his weapon after commands for Latham to drop the knife failed. Defense attorney Jeffrey Swartz argued Edington saw the knife and Latham’s foot move before firing the fatal shots.
According to Edington’s supervisor, after the shooting, Edington looked shocked and appeared to have been crying.
Prosecutors entered several items into evidence, including the knife, Edington’s gun, and cartridge casings. A detective testified that when he recovered the gun for the investigation, six rounds were missing from it.
Prosecution and defense attorneys spent more than one combined hour Tuesday making their opening statements to jurors. Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood said the case comes to down to what Latham did before the moment when he was shot.
Underwood argued that Latham had a knife in his hand pointed toward the ground — and did not advance or retreat.
Defense Attorney Jeffrey Swartz argued Tuesday that Latham was off of his medication, making him dangerous. He called the 2014 incident a tragedy, but not a crime.
Witness testimony began on Tuesday. A total of 40 witnesses are expected to be called between the prosecution and the defense.
Latham’s mother, Audrey, testified that police had been before for her son pulling a knife, but that the June 2014 call was the only time he had refused to out it down.
Latham’s family has claimed that David had suffered from mental illness for 20 years. Audrey testified Tuesday that her son had an appointment with a mental health worker the day he died, but refused to go.
Jurors heard audio of 911 calls from the night of the shooting during Wednesday’s proceedings. Screaming and family members saying Latham had a knife and was swinging it could be heard in the recordings.
Testimony is expected to continue Thursday when the trial picks back up.
WAVY reporter Erin Kelly will have the latest updates on air and online.