Portsmouth CA 'playing terrible politics' in officer shooting indictment, councilwoman says

Author: Adrienne Mayfield / Source: WAVY

Deontrace Ward, 19, is suing Portsmouth Police Officer Jeremy Durocher, 32, claiming he engaged in “gross negligence” and “battery” when he was shot by the officer in 2017.

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In an email between city officials, one leader claimed that the grand jury indictment of a police officer who was involved in a shooting was because the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney was “playing terrible politics,” according to documents obtained by 10 On Your Side.

The email was written by then-Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas to City Manager Dr. L Pettis Patton on Nov. 3 — two days after Portsmouth Police Officer Jeremy Durocher was indicted by a grand jury and charged with malicious wounding and use of a firearm.

The charges stem from an October 2017 incident in which Durocher allegedly shot Deontrace Ward while the 19-year-old fled from the scene of a burglary. Ward eventually pleaded guilty to several charges, including armed burglary, and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Durocher was awarded a Medal of Valor in June 2018 for the actions he took in response to the burglary. In the award, former Police Chief Tonya Chapman wrote that the officer “took necessary steps to stop the threat … at great personal risk.”

After reading an article in the Virginian-Pilot that drew a connection between Durocher’s indictment and the Medal of Valor on Nov. 3, then-Councilman Ray Smith wrote an email to city leaders expressing concern.

In an email addressed to Patton, Psimas, Mayor John Rowe, and council members Bill Moody, Nathan Clark, Lisa Lucas-Burke, and Solomon Ashby, Smith wrote that he was “disheartened” to learn that an officer who’d been under investigation in connection to a shooting had also received recognition for it.

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