Body camera video shows Fairfax police kill man in McLean

Video from a Fairfax County police officer’s body camera, released Thursday, shows an officer fatally shooting a man suffering from a mental health crisis in his McLean home on July 7 as the man charged three officers, brandishing a bottle of wine like a club. The man’s parents reacted to the video saying the killing “cannot be justified” and noting that their son was “5’6, lightly built and holding only a bottle and a decorative mask”.

“We recognize that sometimes police officers face serious and unknown dangers in the line of duty, but that was not the case with this call to our home regarding our son,” the couple said.

Police Chief Kevin Davis said the shooting is still under investigation.

“Our officers faced a very chaotic and dangerous situation,” Davis said as he released the footage at a news conference. “I want to be careful not to offer assessments or opinions,” given the ongoing investigation. “But I think it’s clear from the video that this was a very active and chaotic incident.”

The video shows a Fairfax County police officer shooting and killing 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch on July 7. Lynch was going through a mental health crisis. (Video: Fairfax County Police Department)

The deadly encounter began shortly after 8.30pm when officers arrived in the 6900 block of Arbor Lane. There, in his parents’ spacious home, 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch was behaving erratically in the throes of a mental health crisis, his sister told officers after meeting them outside the residence. Lynch’s parents were not home and no one else was in the house.

After discussing Lynch’s condition for several minutes with the sister, the three officers opened the front doors and entered a large hall, the video shows. One or more of them shouted “Aaron”, as Lynch was commonly called. Lynch suddenly appeared at the opposite end of the hall, holding a large decorative wooden tribal mask in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.

Within about 20 seconds, officers can be heard urging him at least eight times to “put him down”.

“Aaron, are you okay?” one said.

“Bud, it’s ok, you’re in no trouble,” said another.

The video shows Lynch screaming as he threw the wooden mask at one of the officers. Then he charged towards the door where the officers were standing, lifting the bottle of wine by the neck with both hands in what Davis called “an aggressive act”. Two of the officers shot him but Lynch kept coming, according to the video.

“I think it’s safe to say they were several yards away,” Davis said of the officers. “And both taser prongs have to hit for it to take effect. Again, our investigation will reveal if, in fact, those Tasers hit, if they worked, and if they didn’t, why not.

As Lynch, brandishing the bottle, reached the main entrance, Officer Edward George, a member of the force for 10 years, shot him four times. The video shows Lynch collapsing on the threshold and crawling a few feet before being subdued. Asked if it was possible that George mistook his weapon for his Taser, the chief replied: “There is no preliminary investigative information that I know of that suggests that is the case. “

Davis said George was on “administrative” work status, with no public contact, pending the outcome of two parallel investigations, one to determine if the shooting was a felony, the other to determine if department rules had been raped. Efforts to reach George were not immediately successful.

“We believe that the three police officers … could and should have handled this very differently,” Lynch’s parents, Patrick and Kathy Lynch, said in a statement after the press conference. Describing their son as “frightened” by his loss of mental control, they said: “Responding to Aaron’s mental health crisis by shooting him, let alone multiple times, cannot be justified. »

The couple added: “As parents, we mourn the heartbreaking loss of our son and we are left with nothing but memories and regrets.”

Davis said he sympathizes with the family and declined to comment on the parents’ statement.

Davis said the tragic outcome was rare, given the volume of calls Fairfax police receive about people in emotional or psychiatric distress. Of the 6,700 such calls officers have responded to so far this year — an average of about 33 a day — they used force, both lethal and non-lethal, ‘less than one percent of the time’ , said the chief.

The department has adopted “a co-responder philosophy” in which a mental health clinician, when available, accompanies officers on calls such as the one involving Lynch. Earlier in the evening, between 7 and 7:30 p.m., officers and a clinician attended the Lynch home for an initial report of a mental health crisis. But when they arrived, Lynch had left the house and officers couldn’t find him, police said.

When officers were called again, shortly after 8.30pm, the clinician – the only one working with the police so far – was unavailable.

“This clinician had moved to another location at the end of his tour to complete paperwork,” Davis said. He noted that the three officers who responded to the second call had all received advanced crisis intervention training.

Davis said the department will soon begin phase two of the co-responder program, with two clinicians on the payroll instead of one. In a few months, in the fourth and final phase, the department plans to have 16 clinicians working with officers in the field, the chief said.

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