$20 million lawsuit filed against officers involved in Hampton shooting

DeAndre Bethea_620374

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Two weeks ago, Hampton’s top prosecutor cleared two police officers of any wrongdoing in a deadly 2017 shooting, concluding that their use of force was justified. 

Now, the mother of the 24-year-old man who was killed during the shooting, along with another man who was injured, have filed a $20 million lawsuit against the officers. 

The federal lawsuit was filed against officers Charles Howser and Maurice Craighill on Wednesday by Leroy Clyburn III and Keyanna Bethea. 

Keyanna Bethea’s 24-year-old son, DeAndre, died in the shooting. 

Both are asking for $10 million each for funeral and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering, according to court documents. 

DeAndre Bethea and Clyburn were both shot five times during the Oct. 17, 2017 incident, which happened at a 7-Eleven in Hampton. 

At the time of the shooting, Howser was working for the Newport News Police Department and Craighill was working for the Williamsburg Police Department. The NNPD declined to comment on the lawsuit or confirm if Howser is still employed as an officer for their agency. The WPD also declined to comment on the lawsuit, but confirmed that Craighill is still employed by the department. 

Both officers were working in Newport News on the night of the shooting. They were investigating car larcenies and thefts that were happening on the Peninsula, according to a letter written by Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell. 

READ: Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Letter

The officers were at a 7-Eleven in Newport News around 11 p.m. when they saw a stolen Ford Raptor. They followed the truck to another 7-Eleven in Hampton and tried to arrest the five people who had been inside the truck. During the arrest, the officers observed several people with guns – including DeAndre Bethea, Bell wrote. 

Bethea, who was originally sitting in the back seat of the truck, got into the driver’s seat and drove toward the officers and the unmarked police vehicle. The officers began shooting, which caused Bethea to crash into a gas pump, Bell wrote. 

One of the car’s passengers got out of the car with a gun in hand and tried to flee. Craighill saw him, and began to fire more shots in his direction, some of which went into the truck. Howser thought that the gunshots were being exchanged between the passengers of the truck and Craighill, and fired several more shots into the truck, Bell wrote. 

In total, Craighill fired 12 shots and Howser fired four rounds. Bethea died at the hospital, while Clyburn and another person were treated for their injuries. 

Police recovered five guns from the scene and arrested several people, including Clyburn who was found not guilty of being a felon in possession of a gun on April 18.

Bell concluded that the officers use of force was justified; however, the lawsuit claims that the shooting was “completely unprovoked” and “grossly negligent.” Court documents also claim that the shooting of Bethea was “done intentionally with malice aforethought.” 

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