Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney updates policy, will release names of RPD officers indicted by Grand Jury

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) A change to the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s policy for releasing names of Richmond Police Department officers indicted for a crime was announced this morning.

Starting today, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will release the names of officers who are, “indicted by the Richmond Grand Jury for a crime based upon either an abuse of authority while in the performance of their duties or based upon an excessive use of force while in the performance of their duties,” according to a statement.

Currently, the names of officers who have been indicted by the Grand Jury are available as part of the public record, but the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office does not proactively release the names.

Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin announced the change during a press conference along with other information about RPD referrals to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office since 2016. McEachin read the announcement from a prepared statement and refused to answer questions from reporters.   

“While it has never been this Office’s policy to apply a double-standard to the actions of police officers, some members of our Richmond community believe that a badge sometimes acts as a shield against equal justice under the law,” said McEachin in a statement. “This idea undermines the credibility and legitimacy of our justice system, which rests upon the principle of equal treatment of all persons before the law.”

Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin
Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin addresses the media on Friday, July 17, 2020 (Photo: Rachel Keller)

According to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the Richmond Police Department has referred 53 officers for investigation into crimes since 2016. Of those 53 referrals, 33 were investigated.

Of the 33 officers who were investigated, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office determined the following:

  • 17 officers did not act with excessive force;
  • 11 cases could not move forward “due to either a lack of cooperation by the complainant or insufficient evidence of criminal intent, or both”;
  • One case involved cross-warrants and both parties chose not to proceed with the case;
  • Four cases were determined to have sufficient evidence of use of excessive force. Those cases were sent to the Richmond Grand Jury.

Upon review of the four cases presented to the Richmond Grand Jury:

  • Two cases were determined to lack probable cause and did not move forward. The names of these officers are not publicly available;
  • One case was dismissed when the complainant failed to appear in court. This officer’s name is not publicly available;
  • One case is proceeding to trial in August. The case involves officer Lance Falkena who is currently employed by Richmond Police Department on an administrative assignment.

Under the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s updated policy, officers whose cases are sent to the Richmond Grand Jury will be named. Officers who are referred to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office for investigation will continue to remain unnamed unless their case is sent to the Grand Jury.

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