VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach police on Monday held a press conference to address a viral video showing an innocent man being detained and led outside the Lynnhaven Mall on Saturday.
Police Chief Paul Neudigate’s main messaage: “We want to apologize.”
Neudigate said the department would be doing an internal review and looking at case law to determine whether the officer’s actions were justified in the detainment of Jamar Mackey, 32, of Virginia Beach.
The internal investigation will focus on three things specifically:
- What information was relayed to the officer that led to his detainment of Mackey
- Whether the initial approach was justified
- Whether the use of handcuffs was justified
In a video posted on Facebook by Mackey’s fiance, Mackey was handcuffed while he appeared to be eating in the Lynnhaven Mall food court.
Mackey and his fiancée can be heard asking what Mackey did wrong as Mackey became increasingly angry.
Once outside the mall, the officer took the handcuffs off Mackey, acknowledging they had the wrong person.
The officer then told the couple that Mackey matched the description of a suspect they were investigating for a report of a stolen purse and use of stolen credit cards. That description was a Black man with dreadlocks wearing all black and with a child.
On Monday, Nuedigate explained police were called to Lynnhaven Mall after a purse was stolen and credit cards from the stolen purse were used inside the mall.
After officers were given a “very specific suspect description” that’s when police came across Mackey.
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“I think this is a prime opportunity to take a look at where we are in regards to policy and progress,” Neudigate said.
Under police policy, Neudigate said an officer can place someone in handcuffs if they believe there is an officer safety issue.
He wouldn’t say yet if the officer had any fault in the situation until the review is complete.
That could take some time.
The video of the incident starts after the interaction between Mackey and a police sergeant was already underway. Sergeants don’t wear body cameras in Virginia Beach.
“We really need body cameras for the entire police force,” Neudigate said.
Police will rely on other witness statements and mall surveillance video to try to fill in the gaps.
Nuedigate said there was a “very professional response from the officer” after he realized that Mackey was not the suspect.
“Right or wrong, we have to be able to apologize when our actions greatly inconvenienced a member of the community that we serve. So let me take this opportunity to personally extend my apology to Mr. Mackey for this,” Neudigate said.
Neudigate, however, did point out the officer’s actions when it comes to his lack of mask wearing.
Currently under Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order, face coverings are required inside all public settings and anywhere 6 feet of social distancing can’t be done.
“It will be addressed,” Neudigate said. “We are required to wear masks. We set the standard, we set an example for our community.”
Mackey has hired an attorney. He will do a national television interview Tuesday morning and then plans to meet with local media.
On Monday afternoon, Virginia Beach Police confirmed they had arrested a different person in connection with the investigation into the stolen purse and credit cards.
Markee Smith is facing several charges, including three counts of credit card fraud, receiving stolen credit cards or numbers, receiving stolen property, two counts of probation violation and failure to appear in court on a misdemeanor offense.
BELOW: Watch the full press conference with police Chief Paul Neudigate Monday afternoon.