CA: Norfolk officers justified in April police-involved shooting

A photo from the scene on Church Street hours before a police shooting that left Eric Wakup dead. (WAVY Photo)
A photo from the scene on Church Street hours before a police shooting that left Eric Wakup dead. (WAVY Photo)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney has cleared two police officers in the shooting death of an armed man during a prolonged standoff.

Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood wrote in a letter to Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith released Friday that the officers’ actions were “necessary and justified.”

30-year-old Eric Wakup was shot and killed by police following a barricade situation in the 1300 block of Church Street in the early morning hours of April 23.

At about 6 p.m. on April 22, police responded to the Church Street home for a report of a barricaded person, who appeared to be unstable and possibly armed.

At the time, police said Wakup took his brother and another relative hostage inside the home. Officers were called to the scene after they broke free. Four felony arrest warrants were then secured against Wakup as a result of the situation.

Underwood said in the letter that evidence demonstrates Wakup walked out his front door in the early morning areas of April 23, armed with a semiautomatic handgun in one hand and a long rifle in the other. Wakup then raised a gun up, “endangering Norfolk police officers and any civilians present in the area,”  the letter says, which prompted two police snipers to shoot him.

Underwood said Wakup threatened to kill himself during the ensuing standoff.

Read: Letter from Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney

A short time earlier, Underwood said Wakup had fired shots into an occupied police armored vehicle. More than one of the rounds is believed to have hit a nearby residence.

After considering all of the evidence, Underwood said both officers involved in the shooting reacted reasonably to “imminent danger to other Norfolk police officers and civilians created by Eric Wakup’s own violent actions.”

Underwood wrote in the letter that Wakup had a history of substance abuse and mental health issues.

Underwood’s letter says Wakup showed his willingness to use deadly force when he fired upon the armored police vehicle with officers inside.

“Wakup was not only armed and had the present capacity to kill when he exited his front door, but he had already shown the willingness to do so.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney says the officers used deadly force to “eliminate a demonstrated threat in accordance with their duties and training.”

Wakup was white; police haven’t given the race of the officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.