Owner of pizza shop says police shooting outside restaurant hurt business

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — An Ocean View pizza shop owner says the police-involved shooting that happened in the parking lot outside his restaurant has impacted business in a negative way.

Tommy Posilero is the proud of his family-owned pizza shop, Mona Lisa Pizza on Shore Drive.

For 14 years, business has been steady, he says, until the night of March 19, when police shot and killed India Beaty in the parking lot.

Just after 1:00 that morning, two narcotics police officers were conducting undercover surveillance in the 9500 block of Shore Drive, waiting for a suspected drug dealer to arrive in the parking lot. According to police, the officers saw 25-year-old India Beaty and two men in an argument. Beaty appeared to have a gun pointed at one of the men. Police said she was behaving aggressively.

The two officers got out of their unmarked surveillance van and approached the situation. They identified themselves as police officers and gave Beaty verbal commands of “police” and “show me your hands,” but she did not. There were other investigators on scene who said Beaty turned toward the approaching officers, then pulled the apparent gun from her waist.

The officers tried to render first aid, but paramedics declared Beaty dead at 1:29 a.m.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood determined the officers’ use of force was a “reasonable reaction to” the danger presented by Beaty. As a result, no charges will be sought.

“When that happened, we got a real backlash from it,” said Posilero.

Posilero says business is down 30 percent overall and about 50 percent in the months following the shooting.

According to documents from the Commonwealth’s Attorney, a witness with Beaty at the time of the shooting told police he and Beaty were in the area to have a few drinks at Mona Lisa’s. The owner says that never happened and his place was already closed in anticipation of the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities on the following day.

“They stepped as far as that front door where my bouncers were at. They didn’t come to the bar to drink or eat or do anything before my bouncer said we are already closed and they left,” said Posilero. “We have families that come here and then once that happened, it got tagged on our restaurant like it was happening in Mona Lisa’s. We are at the point where our landlord doesn’t want to renew us because he’s blaming us for the shooting, which had nothing to do with that.”

Posilero doesn’t deny the shooting happened in the parking lot outside, as detailed in the report from the Commonwealth’s attorney, but the owner does say what happened outside has nothing to do with the shop he runs inside.

“It’s kind of frustrating because as a business owner, you bust your butt and spend all your money to keep this business going and it gets knocked down because this happened and it has nothing to do with your business.”