NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Dwight Pitterson, the first of two Newport News Police officers to be tried for the death of Henry K. Berry III, was found not guilty on all charges Thursday.
After about three hours, a Newport News jury acquitted Pitterson on the two felony and two misdemeanor charges he faced.
“Dwight was a good officer, and nothing he did was criminal. I’m so glad that the jury saw that, so we’re very pleased,” said Artisha Gregg, Pitterson’s defense attorney.
Pitterson’s supervisor, Sgt. Albin Pearson, is charged with second-degree murder. His trial is pending.
The charges against both men stem from the death of 43-year-old Henry Kistler Berry III inside his Nantucket Place condominium on Dec. 27, 2019.
Several officers were trying to charge Berry with a misdemeanor that evening for misusing 911 multiple times earlier that day.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew later explained that the officers arrived to find Berry in an “agitated” state. They tried to get him to go outside, but he refused. Instead, he reportedly ran back into his condo, the officers followed and a struggle ensued.
An officer tased Berry, but he continued to refuse to comply, Chief Drew said. Berry then reportedly grabbed the stun gun and used it on two of the officers. It was at that time, Pearson shot Berry. Despite attempts to revive him, Berry died.
An autopsy showed that Berry had no drugs or alcohol in his system at his time of death.
Nearly a year later, in November 2020, the Newport News Police Department was informed by the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office that charges had been filed against Pearson and Pitterson in connection with Berry’s death.
Prosecutor Brandon Wrobleski said in his closing argument that officers shouldn’t arrest people for calling 911, and the officers shouldn’t have been in Berry’s house in the first place because they had no warrant.
“And we maintained that argument. They had no search warrant, they had no arrest warrant. Again, we do respect the jury’s verdict,” Wrobleski said.
Pitterson no longer works for Newport News police.