VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — Officers who fatally shot a homicide suspect this March at the Oceanfront were justified in the killing and won’t face criminal charges, the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney says.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle, who released the findings of his investigation into the incident on Friday, says “substantial evidence,” including body camera footage and witness testimony, shows 23-year-old Alvin Lamont Baum II pointed a handgun at officers and fired a bullet in their direction when they went to take him into custody on March 20 on 35th Street. That led to four officers, two from Virginia Beach and two from Norfolk, firing multiple rounds and killing Baum.
The officers who fired on Baum were Virginia Beach detectives Jason Mann and Nicholas Wengler, and Norfolk officers Sean Garrison and Lake Maizel.
Stolle said it was “clear the officers returned fire after being fired upon” by Baum and the police were within legal authority to fire back, citing several laws dealing with use of deadly force.
WAVY has obtained body camera footage of the incident, which does show a bullet coming out of Baum’s driver’s side window before officers fired. Maizel and Norfolk SWAT officer Cody Rouse were on the driver’s side, and Stolle says the officers believed their lives were in jeopardy because they were in the direct line of fire of Baum’s gun.
BELOW: Body camera footage released by the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Not every officer had their body camera on at the time of the incident, but Rouse’s camera does appear to show glass shattering out from the driver’s side window that indicates Baum fired out of the vehicle. Rouse’s camera shows Maizel, who was closer to Baum, didn’t fire until that first shot, but doesn’t directly show Baum firing the shot. Stolle says that Garrison, who was on the passenger side, also said Baum pointed the gun at officers and fired, though it’s unclear on his body camera footage.
Norfolk SWAT officers were in Virginia Beach that day because Baum was a suspect in two Norfolk homicides, Stolle says, including one the day before. Police say video tied Baum’s red SUV to that homicide and they were able to take out a warrant to track his cell phone location.
A ping from the cell phone led to officers finding Baum and his vehicle in the 200 block of 35th Street. Stolle says officers identified themselves around 11:25 a.m. and went to take Baum into custody, but he jumped into the SUV and tried to take off moments before the shooting, but he was blocked by a civilian vehicle and later by SWAT vehicles.
Baum was pronounced dead at 11:33 a.m. Stolle says investigators found a Glock .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine next to Baum’s right hand, and ballistics analysis of shell casings in the SUV determined he fired one shot in the encounter, but four other shell casings found inside the vehicle were linked to rounds found in the Norfolk homicide the day before.
Baum had 13 gunshot wounds that the medical examiner said could have come from as few as 11 or as many as 13 bullets, and a toxicology report found he had 0.30 mg of methamphetamine in his blood at the time of the autopsy.
Before the release of the Stolle’s investigation, Baum’s family took issue with the number of times officers fired at him, calling it “target practice.” Stolle says Garrison fired 11 times, Maizel fired 13 times, Mann fired four times and Wengler fired once.
The shooting, from Baum’s first shot, lasted three seconds, Stolle says.
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