PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas has filed a motion to dismiss two felony charges against her stemming from a destructive protest earlier this summer at the Confederate monument in Portsmouth.
In the motion, which was filed Sept. 3 in the Portsmouth General District Court, Lucas and her attorney called the matter “a derivative of an illegal and unsanctioned police action.”
Lucas was charged Aug. 17 with conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000.
She was one of 14 people — including Portsmouth School Board member LaKeesha S. “Klu” Atkinson, members of the NAACP and members of the public defender’s office — charged in connection with the protest, which left a man seriously injured when a statute of a soldier was pulled down on top of him.
Since then, five more people have been charged.
Police did not specify exactly what Lucas allegedly did when they announced the charges Aug. 17, but a 10 On Your Side review of body camera footage from June 10 showed Lucas telling police that protesters were going to paint the statue.
Lucas stood by the conversation she says she had with the city manager. Lucas told 10 On Your Side she never urged protesters to vandalize the monument but did appear on body camera footage telling officers they couldn’t stop what was about to happen.
According to the motion to dismiss, Lucas claims Portsmouth Police should never have investigated and taken charges out against a sitting state senator without a grant of jurisdiction over the matter. The motion cites is a section of state code that states no criminal investigation should be done into an elected official without the request of the governor, attorney general or a grand jury.
Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene said during a press conference when the charges against Lucas were announced that requests were made to state and federal authorities to conduct an independent investigation. She said that a discussion with the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney “did not yield any action.” So, the police department went straight to the magistrate.
Greene was also recently placed on administrative leave from her position following much back-and-forth from various parties involved in the protest issue, including the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, police department, Lucas and her supporters, and Portsmouth City Council.
Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton also announced her resignation Tuesday. Her announcement was followed shortly by City Council voting to fire City Attorney Solomon Ashby.
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