CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – It’s been a year since police say Sarah Wilson shot and killed herself while her hands were cuffed behind her back during a traffic stop in South Norfolk. Now, new court documents detail the Chesapeake Police Department’s investigation into the 19-year-old and her boyfriend, and what led officers to stop the couple on Wilson Road.
Wilson and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Holden Medlin, were stopped by CPD near the intersection of Berkley Avenue and Wilson Road around 4:24 p.m. on July 25, 2018. During the stop, a police officer handcuffed Wilson with her hands behind her back before leaving her on the passenger’s side of the car to assist other officers who were struggling to detain Medlin.
Wilson wouldn’t leave the scene alive. CPD spokesman Leo Kosinski said that Wilson was handcuffed with her arms behind her back when she got the gun out of the car, “contorted” her body, and shot herself in the head. The medical examiner determined that Wilson died after she shot herself in the mouth with a Taurus Judge handgun.
Medlin was arrested and charged with several crimes, including possession of Oxycodone and possession of a firearm by a violent felon. He pleaded guilty to those two charges and a misdemeanor obstruction of judge charge on Tuesday.
Prosecutors released a stipulation of facts, which is a court document that details evidence they would have presented had the case gone to trial.
Prosecutors wrote that police were investigating Medlin — who they called a “known narcotic user and distributor” — after they received a tip that he was “buying firearms instead of paying people back.”
Officers were conducting surveillance at a home in the 1200 block of Hoover Avenue on the day of the traffic stop because they received a tip that Medlin was at the house. Officers were also told that Wilson, who was wanted for a probation violation on a possession of methamphetamine charge, was frequently at the home, court documents state.
Police watched the couple “in and around” and “manipulating” items in the 1996 Lexus that was later involved in the traffic stop. The couple eventually got into the car and drove less than a mile from the home before officers pulled them over for what appeared to be illegal window tint and because of Wilson’s wanted status, according to court documents.
Officers approached the car and told Medlin to get out. Initially he seemed like he was going to cooperate, “but quickly tensed up, raised his voice, and started to resist arrest.” He pushed away from the car, put his hands in the air as if he was going to hit nearby officers, and tried to flee the scene. Even when officers caught Medlin, he continued to physically struggle with them. Police used a Taser to subdue him twice.
Meanwhile, Wilson had gotten out of the car and was handcuffed.
It was during the struggle with Medlin that the officer who handcuffed Wilson with her hands behind her back left the teenager unattended on the passenger side of the car and went to assist the officers who were struggling to arrest Medlin. It was also during this struggle that Wilson got the gun and shot herself, police spokesperson Leo Kosinski told 10 On Your Side in August 2018.
Police searched the scene and found a capped needle and oxycodone on Medlin. In the car they found several guns, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, a digital scale, and a syringe.
Court documents also say that there were drugs in “plain view” of the officers who approached the car. Jennifer Langley — an attorney who represented Wilson’s mother — told 10 On Your Side in May that the teenager had a meth pipe in her lap at the time of her stop, and her autopsy showed that she was “acutely” intoxicated on methamphetamines at the time of her death.
“She should have not had access to a gun,” Langley said in May. “How did a 19-year-old girl, handcuffed behind her back in hinged handcuffs, get to a weapon, put a gun in her mouth, and pull the trigger in the presence of four to five police officers? How did that happen?”