Loudoun County sheriff's deputies used reasonable force when responding to a May disturbance at the Sterling Costco, which resulted in the fatal shooting of the suspect, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said Wednesday.
A joint investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office and Virginia State Police found the deputies' implemented a reasonable use of lethal force, Plowman said. The commonwealth's attorney said it was justifiable homicide, citing imminent danger to the deputies and others in the store.
“It was a matter of protecting lives,” Sheriff Mike Chapman said.
The melee began about 3 p.m. May 29 when store employees noticed 38-year-old Mhai Scott acting oddly while handing out pizza samples, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. She reportedly became upset when she ran out of pizza. Witnesses said she was waving a knife and scissors, threatening employees.
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“She’s described as talking incoherently or illogically, not making sense,” Plowman said.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Scott -- who worked for a company that handles sampling at Costco stores – charged them, Plowman said. One deputy tried to use a Taser on Scott, but the charge only lasted a second and did not subdue Scott. Another deputy fired five shots, striking Scott four times.
“Police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving,” Plowman said. “This was one of those situations.”
The Taser device was sent to the company for examination to see if it failed, Plowman said.
Both deputies were placed on administrative leave. The shooter remains on leave but is expected to return to duty soon.