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Family of man shot by Martinsburg police officers seeks answers

The incident is being investigated by West Virginia State Police

March 27, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Family members of Wayne Jones, who died March 13 from multiple gunshot wounds when five Martinsburg police officers tried to arrest him during an altercation, claimed at a news conference Wednesday that Jones was struck 15 times by police bullets.

The incident is being investigated by West Virginia State Police.

The results of an autopsy performed on Jones, 50, of Stephens City, Va., have not been released.

“The case is still under investigation,” Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday.

She said she didn’t know when the autopsy results would be released or when the investigation will be completed.

The news conference at the Holiday Inn was organized by Martinsburg attorney Sherman Lambert, who is representing Jones’ survivors.

Lambert said no decision has been made concerning legal action against the city.

Family members present were Jones’ two brothers, Bruce A. and Bobby Jones, both of Winchester, Va.; sister, Shayne Hunt of Tampa, Fla.; and cousin, Marion Meadows, who said he came from his home in Hawaii to support the family.

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Each in turn questioned why Jones ended up dead after an altercation with police at about 11:45 p.m. on South Queen Street.

According to police, the officers involved struck Jones twice with stun guns after he became angry and refused to follow orders. The shocks had “little” effect on Jones, who pulled a knife and stabbed one of the officers when they tried to restrain him on the ground, police said. The stab wound was minor and did not require medical attention, police said.

Jones was ordered to drop the knife while he still was on the ground. When he did not comply and tried to get up, the officers backed away and fired multiple rounds at him “to neutralize the threat,” according to the police report.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Several family members said they believe Jones, based on entrance and exit wounds, was shot 15 times.

Bruce Jones said three bullet holes were found in a flower pot where his brother was shot.

Meadows called the incident “a use of deadly force, a frenzy, a situation out of control.”

Hunt said Jones was on medication for paranoia and schizophrenia.

“He was not slow,” she said. “He was a normal person.”

Wayne Jones lived with and took care of his aging mother for years until she had to go into a nursing home, Hunt said. He started just “drifting around after that” until about six months ago, when he moved into the home of a woman named Patricia. Family members said they did not know Patricia’s last name.

Jones lived with Patricia for about six months. It was his normal routine to walk down the street every night and go to the store, Hunt said.

George Rutherford and Jim Tolbert, both of Charles Town, W.Va., and both NAACP officers, said at the news conference that they are requesting the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate Jones’ death as a hate crime.

“The NAACP and the African-American community would like to know why five assumed well-trained police officers were unable to restrain a relatively lightweight man after being shot twice with a taser,” they said.

“Why would an officer shoot a man who was down? Why was there a need to fire approximately 15 shots, and why did the officer who was stabbed not require medical attention?”

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