Virginia Officer Justified in Shooting Man Wielding Crowbar, Prosecutor Says

A police officer acted lawfully in his decision to shoot a man raising a crowbar at officers earlier this month in Manassas, police and prosecutors said Friday night.

An officer shot Jonathan Alexander Diaz-Chavez, 22, in the upper body the afternoon of Sept. 23 after police said the officer raised a crowbar at them several times "in a threatening manner." A statement issued by the Prince William County Police Department says police and county Commonwealth Attorney Paul Elbert believe the officer made the right call.

“I have carefully reviewed the evidence and circumstances leading up to the shooting of Jonathan Diaz-Chavez on September 23rd and have ruled the shooting justified," Elbert said in a statement. "I find the officers were in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm when they used potential lethal force in their attempt to apprehend the suspect.”

Diaz-Chavez was treated at a hospital and charged with attempted aggravated malicious wounding of an officer.

A homeowner called police on Sept. 23 and said she saw a man hiding in a bush near the deck of her home on the 7600 block of Lake Drive. When the resident's dog barked at him, the man took off running.

Police responded about 2:10 p.m. and spotted Diaz-Chavez lying in grass. He raised the crowbar at officers and made verbal threats, police said.

Officers ordered him to drop the weapon, police said. When he refused, they sprayed him with pepper spray. He ran away with the crowbar and advanced at officers again, this time raising the crowbar at them, police said.

An officer shot Diaz-Chavez after he repeatedly refused to drop the weapon, police said.

Police Chief Steve Hudson expressed concern for Diaz-Chavez, who police said was homeless.

"Police officers do not desire to use lethal force, but in these rare cases they must act quickly and decisively to protect themselves and others," he said. "I am thankful that the resident and officers were not harmed, and that the suspect will survive to face the criminal justice system and hopefully receive the help he needs.”

Resident Tara Frastak said the disturbance was unusual.

"It's a residential neighborhood. Peaceful. Quiet. It's not what we expect to see," she said.

Diaz-Chavez is due in court Nov. 18.

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