RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Police looked Tuesday for two people who might be able to explain why their friend commandeered the personal vehicle of an off-duty Richmond police officer who fatally shot the man, Chesterfield County police said.
The two people were with Paterson Brown Jr., 18, when Brown got into the officer’s car at a car wash and drove it out of the washing bay, Lt. Richard McCullough said. Witnesses told police that the officer ordered Brown out of the car. Surveillance video from the car wash showed the officer and Brown struggled briefly before a shot was fired.
Several witnesses and the officer told Chesterfield police that Brown made a sudden move, as if reaching for a weapon. However, no weapon was recovered, McCullough said.
The two people who were with Brown had arrived at the car wash in another vehicle and are believed to be his friends, McCullough said. They had driven away.
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Police believed they know their identities and want to talk to them.
It was unclear why Brown, who was not an employee of the car wash, got into the officer’s car. Several witnesses said Brown “seemed a little bit off, but we don’t know what that entails,” McCullough said.
He said toxicology reports on Brown could take several weeks to complete. An autopsy was conducted Monday, but police had not received results Tuesday and the medical examiner’s office did not immediately return a phone message to The Associated Press.
McCullough said it appears the officer fired only one shot. He said the officer, who asked car wash employees to call 911, was visibly shaken.
The officer’s name will not be released unless he is charged, McCullough said. He said that is standard practice for fatal shootings by officers and civilians alike. Results of the police investigation will be turned over to the county prosecutor, but McCullough could not say how long that might take.
Police declined to release a copy of the incident report or the surveillance video, citing the ongoing investigation. McCullough also said he could not describe the video.
“We’ve barely gone through most of it,” he said. “We’re still early in the investigation. There’s a lot of follow-up to do.”
The two-bay car wash is adjacent to a gas station and bodega on a busy commuter route, Midlothian Turnpike, that connects Richmond and adjacent Chesterfield County. The street is lined with fast-food restaurants and car dealerships, which has earned it the nickname “The Midlothian Motor Mile.”
A worker at the car wash said Tuesday that employees were not allowed to talk about the shooting. A cashier at the adjacent gas station also declined to talk.
Brown was a graduate of James River High School.
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com