PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Andre Rawls is now standing tall after an ordeal that could have been deadly. He was hospitalized for two months after a Portsmouth Police officer shot him five times following an incident on Father’s Day last year.
Rawls, who has a history of mental illness, was walking along Greenwood Drive when an officer approached and Rawls failed to stop advancing toward the officer. The entire incident was caught on camera by passersby. The official police report said Rawls was holding a sharp object; a resident and Rawls said that object was a grilling fork.
Portsmouth attorney Nathan Chapman did the heavy lifting in court last week when he secured a nolle prossed, or set aside, status for the criminal charges filed against his 20-year-old client.
Over a period of two months a dream team from Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Outreach and Research did the heavy lifting to restore Rawls’ mental had physical health at Better Bodies 757 in Hampton.
Dream team helps restore confidence
Cameron Bertrand is the founder of the non-profit organization. Bertrand, in a Zoom interview, explained how members of the care team were able to restore Rawls’ sense of confidence.
“By looking at him as the human being he is. He did not get that from the police officer who emptied five bullets into his body; that should have never happened,” Bertrand said.
The team has spent the past two months restoring Rawls and members of his family who were traumatized by the incident. Bertrand knows all too well the challenges this 20-year-old faces.
“I got shot six years ago,” said Bertrand, whose case in Norfolk remains unsolved. “For anybody who knows what that feels like, I still wake up every morning with a bullet in my leg.”
Members of the team, which consists of a fitness professional, a physical therapist and a mental health professional, are proud of Andre’s progress.
“We’ve seen improvements in his balance, his coordination, and his strength, I can see the confidence as he comes in now,” said Susan Ottey, CEO of Better Bodies 757, which serves as the headquarters of Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention. The organization serves people and families across the region.
Team member Jasmine Moore, who sat with Rawls during last week’s court hearing, urges others who have suffered physically and emotionally from the effects of gun violence to contact the team.
“There is support for you we are here for you,” Moore said. “You can get better and you will get better but we have to do this together.”
If you need assistance from Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention: Outreach and Research or if you would like to contribute to the organization call 757-945-0456.