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Virginia police officer indicted for murder after fatal shooting. ‘Force must be used sparingly,’ officials say.

Source: Bristol Police Department; Unsplash

May 6 2021, Published 4:30 p.m. ET

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A grand jury indicted a Virginia police officer on a murder charge after he fatally shot a man, a prosecutor said.

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On May 4, Jonathan Brown of the Bristol Police Department turned himself in to Virginia State Police and was released on $25,000 bond, according to Don Caldwell, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Roanoke. 

Caldwell said he does not consider Brown “a flight risk or a danger to the community pending the trial.”

On March 30 around 4:30 a.m., a person staying in a Bristol motel called 911 to report shots fired. Responding officers found Jonathen Kohler, 31, sitting behind the wheel of a 1994 Ford Mustang, State Police said in a May 4 statement, according to ABC News.

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“As officers were verbally engaged with Kohler, he backed up and then drove forward in an attempt to exit the parking lot, at which point one of the officers fired at Kohler’s vehicle,” State Police said.

In a statement issued after the shooting, State police claimed Kohler refused officers “repeated commands” to exit the vehicle.

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Kohler “then put the Mustang into drive and sped towards one of the officers,” police said in the March 30 statement, and “the officer fired at the suspect vehicle as it came at him,” killing him.

According to ABC News, Kohler and Brown are both white.

Brown, who was suspended without pay pending an investigation into the shooting, faces charges of murder, using a firearm in the commission of a felony and shooting into an occupied vehicle.  

“We do not condone, nor will we tolerate the unnecessary use of force by our police officers,” reads a statement issued by Bristol Mayor Bill Hartley and City Manager Randall Eads. “There is a time and a place for the use of force, and force must be used sparingly and within the bounds of the law.”


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