Authorities: Fatal Alexandria Police-Involved Shooting Was Justified

Deceased had gun in possession

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The seven Alexandria, Va. police officers who shot and killed a man in February are back on the job and cleared of any wrongdoing. As News4's Mark Segraves reports, the victim's family is still not convinced the officers acted in self-defense.

    An internal investigation into the fatal shooting of a former Marine by Alexandria police found that the shooting was reasonable and within compliance, the Alexandria Police Department announced Thursday.

    On Feb. 18, Taft Sellers, a 30-year-old former Marine, was visiting his grandmother at her apartment in the 3400 block of Duke Street when he got into an argument with his sister.

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    Sellers' sister called police and told them Taft had a gun but that he had not threatened to use it. 

    The responding officer tried to talk to Sellers, repeatedly asking him to show his hands, authorities said.

    Sellers then pointed his gun at the officers, who fired 37 bullets, striking Sellers five times, said S. Randolph Sengel, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Alexandria.

    Sellers was pronounced dead at the scene. He had not fired his own gun.

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    Alexandria Police Department policy states that officers can use lethal force when "an employee reasonably believes that the action is in the defense of human life, including the employee's own life, or in the defense of any person in imminent danger of serious physical injury."

    Back in July, the Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney also determined that the shooting was justified and cleared the seven Alexandria police officers involved.

    "I have mixed feelings about it because some things just don't add up to me," Taft Sellers' sister Tanny Sellers told News4. "He did have mental issues that stemmed from the military. He was seeking help from the VA."

    She said she is skeptical of the internal investigation's findings.

    "I just don't believe that. I want to talk to the witnesses that saw this incident happen," Tanny Sellers said.  

    Alexandria Police said they have video from a witness showing Taft Sellers pointing his gun at the officers, but refuse to release the video. In a news conference Thursday, officers said they had showed the video to Taft Sellers' family, but his sister said the video did not depict the gun he is said to have pointed at the officers. 

    "We did not see the gun, and I saw that video over, and over again," Tanny Sellers said. "[My brother] didn't deserve to die like some animal."

    A medical examiner's report determined there were no drugs or alcohol in Sellers' system at the time of the shooting. The investigation into the shooting also found Sellers had emailed his family telling them he wanted to commit suicide, according to court documents.

    The officers involved have returned to work following the conclusion of the internal investigation.

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