NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — “They’re trying to kill me” — that’s what the Commonwealth’s Attorney said Henry “Hank” Berry III told 911 dispatchers shortly before he was shot and killed on December 27, 2019.

Sergeant Albin Pearson is now facing a second-degree murder charge, as well as assault and other charges, for Berry’s death. His trial started Monday. 

After several hours of jury selection — during which attorneys from both sides asked potential jurors whether Pearson’s position as a police officer would influence their opinion — Pearson’s attorney, Tim Clancy, told the jury in his opening statement that Pearson shot Berry because he was fearful for his safety and the safety of his team. 

The shooting happened during a struggle when officers said they were trying to arrest Berry for misusing the 911 line and making false reports. Berry got a hold of an officer’s taser, Clancy told the jury.

Police previously said that Sgt. Pearson and Officer Pitterson had gone to Berry’s home to charge Berry with falsely summoning law enforcement. The probable cause document, however, says no warrants — or search warrants — were obtained.

Generally, without a search warrant or arrest warrant, the document said officers — and Pearson — had no legal basis to enter a residence at that time.

In his opening statements on Monday, the Commonwealth Attorney told jurors that Berry deserved “privacy” and security in his own home — and that police officers should not have been there in the first place.

Following a recent inquiry, Newport News police tell 10 On Your Side that Pearson is currently on administrative leave without pay.

Check for the latest updates.