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Suspect in custody following shooting at 7-Eleven at Chamberlayne and Azalea Avenues

Police found an adult male suffering from apparent gunshot wounds upon arrival. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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From Richmond Police:

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, officers responded to the 5200 block of Chamberlayne Avenue for several reports of a person shot at the 7-Eleven store, located at the intersection of Chamberlayne Avenue and Azalea Avenue. Once on scene, they found an adult male suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An adult male suspect is in custody.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Major Crimes Detective K. Hughes at (804) 385-7269 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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RPD Seeking GRTC Pulse Assault Victim, Man Wanted for Attacking Woman

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From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the victim of a recent assault on a GRTC Pulse bus to come forward.

At around noon on August 31, 2020, security video shows a man rising from his seat on a GRTC Pulse bus. As he steps towards the back of the bus, he intentionally and forcefully strikes the victim, seated directly behind him, in the head. The suspect pretends to slip, and then slips near the driver. We covered the victim’s face for her safety, but detectives would like to speak to her about the incident. The suspect eventually exited the bus.

The same man is suspected in two other random attacks on women in the City of Richmond, as well as another assault of a woman in Henrico County.

At around 10:15 a.m. on August 31, 2020, security video shows the elderly victim using a cane to cross East Broad Street at North 4th Street. When she reaches the sidewalk, the suspect punches her in the face with such force she’s knocked to the ground. The suspect walked away.

At around 3:45 p.m. on July 21, 2020, security video shows the victim on her phone and the suspect seated directly in front of her. As the bus approaches a stop, the suspect leans back and elbows her in the head and chest. The suspect again pretends he slipped and fell, then elbows the victim in the head a second time. The suspect exited the bus.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Activists say bill ending police stops for pot odor is ‘small step’ for marginalized communities

The state Senate approved a bill Friday that would prohibit search and seizures based solely on the odor of marijuana. Activists say this is a small step toward ending adverse enforcement against marginalized communities.

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By Andrew Ringle

The state Senate approved a bill Friday that would prohibit search and seizures based solely on the odor of marijuana. Activists say this is a small step toward ending adverse enforcement against marginalized communities.

Senate Bill 5029, introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, passed with a 21-15 vote.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, a nonprofit pushing for the statewide legalization of marijuana, said her group is excited to see the bill move forward.

“This is a small but important step to decriminalizing Black and brown bodies of being targeted by this longtime policing tool, which was really created by politicizing the war on drugs,” Higgs Wise said.

Black people are more than three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia compared to white people, according to 2018 data from the ACLU. Even after marijuana was decriminalized in July, Higgs Wise said police stops initiated on the smell of marijuana continue to adversely affect minority groups.

“The odor of marijuana is something that our undocumented community is anxious about because it’s life or death and separation from their families,” Higgs Wise said.

Higgs Wise said there is still “a long way to go” before demands for full marijuana legalization are met, but right now she wants legislators to focus on ending the enforcement of remaining marijuana-related penalties.

Marijuana decriminalization legislation approved by the General Assembly earlier this year went into effect in July. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana results in a $25 civil penalty, reduced from a $500 criminal fine and 30 days in jail for having up to half an ounce.

Higgs Wise said true reform goes further; clearing records, releasing people jailed for marijuana offenses and eliminating the $25 fine.

“All of that has to stop to meet the full demand of legalization and fully, truly decriminalizing marijuana and Black and brown bodies in the eyes of the police,” Higgs Wise said.

Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Dana Schrad said the organization opposes the bill.

“Enacting this type of legislation allows and promotes smoking of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, which is a fundamental disregard for maintaining a safe driving environment for motorists,” Schrad said in an email.

Other amendments in the bill reduce certain traffic violations from primary to secondary offenses, which Schrad said could make it difficult for officers to issue citations on the road and creates risks for other drivers.

The bill, and another in the House, reduce other traffic penalties from primary to secondary offenses, such as driving with tinted windows or without a light illuminating the vehicle’s license plate.

Claire Gastañaga, executive director of ACLU Virginia, said police have “gotten comfortable” with using the smell of marijuana as a pretext to stop and frisk.

“Occasionally, they’ll find evidence doing that of some other criminal activity, but many times they don’t,” Gastañaga said. “As a consequence, it provides an excuse for essentially over-policing people who have done nothing wrong.”

Gastañaga said the end of the overcriminalization of Black and brown people will come after legislators legalize marijuana and commit to reinvesting equitably in those communities. A resolution approved by the General Assembly earlier in the year directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study and make recommendations for how the commonwealth should legalize marijuana by 2022.

Gastañaga said SB 5029 sends a strong message to the police and the public.

“This would take [away] that pretextual tool for police stopping people on the street, or for demanding to search a vehicle,” Gastañaga said.

The bill needs approval from the House of Delegates and a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam before it can become law, which would take effect four months after the special session adjourns.

House Bill 5058 similarly aims to end police searches based on the odor of marijuana. The bill, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, reported Wednesday from the House Courts of Justice committee by a vote of 13-7.

“A disproportionate number of people pulled over for minor traffic offenses tend to be people of color,” Hope said during the committee meeting on Wednesday. “This is a contributor to the higher incarceration rate among minorities.”

Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said during Wednesday’s meeting that when people feel they are being targeted by the police, they’re less likely to report crimes or act as witnesses in prosecutions. He said ending such traffic stops is necessary to reform the criminal justice system and make communities safer.

“Reforming our criminal justice system means bringing back legitimacy to it,” Descano said.

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Eric English announced as chief of police for Henrico County effective September 14th

English, who has headed the police department for the city of Harrisonburg since 2018, was introduced at an Aug. 24 news conference that also saluted outgoing Chief Humberto “Hum” Cardounel Jr. Cardounel, who is retiring Aug. 28 after more than four years in the position and a career of nearly 32 years with the Henrico Police Division.

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Henrico County has appointed Eric D. English as chief of police, effective Monday, Sept. 14.

English, who has headed the police department for the city of Harrisonburg since 2018, was introduced at an Aug. 24 news conference that also saluted outgoing Chief Humberto “Hum” Cardounel Jr. Cardounel, who is retiring Aug. 28 after more than four years in the position and a career of nearly 32 years with the Henrico Police Division.

Flanked by a pair of “Welcome Home, Chief!” banners, County Manager John A. Vithoulkas highlighted English’s ties to Henrico — he is a 30-year resident of the county; he is a graduate of the University of Richmond; he has been a youth basketball coach and official in the area for many years; and his two children attended Henrico County Public Schools.

“Make no mistake, [English] is a product of Henrico,” Vithoulkas said. “We couldn’t be happier to bring him home.”

English comes to Henrico with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, ranging from patrol to command staff. He served with the Richmond Police Department from 1989 to 2018, rising through the ranks to become deputy chief of operations in 2011 and deputy chief of support and business services in 2016. He was named Harrisonburg’s chief of police in September 2018.

As leader of the Henrico Police Division, English will oversee an agency with 863 personnel, including more than 600 sworn officers, and a budget of $80.3 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Among its responsibilities, HPD provides law enforcement, investigates criminal activity, operates the county’s emergency communications center and offers educational programs on drug awareness, crime prevention and other topics for the community.

HPD is internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The division is one of 17 law enforcement agencies worldwide to receive CALEA’s TRI-ARC award and was named a “Best for Vets” employer by Military Times magazine in 2019. HPD has earned first place for Best Traffic Safety Program for 15 consecutive years in the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Challenge.

“As a county, we were determined to find someone who would be up to the task on day one — someone with the experience, judgment, skill set and temperament to lead a comprehensive Police Division like ours,” Vithoulkas said. “There is a very strong base in this division. I told the chief he is being handed the keys to a Ferrari.”

English said it is a blessing to be coming home and leading a law enforcement agency with which he is familiar.

“I am very excited to be working with the men and women of the Henrico Police Division,” he said. “There are a lot of talented individuals in this agency. I want to try to enhance what we’ve already been doing.”

English said that getting to know the community, building trust and building partnerships are key.

“It is important for me to come here and listen. I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “It’s important for me to listen to this staff, to the citizens of this county and to our stakeholders.

“All of those factors will be important in making sure we can resolve the issues we are dealing with in society today,” he said. “We all play a part — it is not just policing. Our community and our stakeholders play a part. We can only do this together.”

English earned a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and sociology from the University of Richmond (UR) and received a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. He played basketball for UR and was a member of the Spiders’ Sweet Sixteen team of 1988.

English attended the Senior Management Institute for Police and is a certified law enforcement instructor. He is a member of the International and Virginia associations of Chiefs of Police and is president of the central Virginia chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

He and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren.

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