A state trooper’s use of deadly force was justified, according to a Chesapeake prosecutor who investigated the police pursuit and crash off Interstate 664 that left two people dead in November.
An investigation was launched following the death of Brian Michael Price, 45, of Chesapeake, who was fatally shot by a Virginia State Police trooper after getting into an “altercation” with the officer following the crash. Price’s passenger — Amity Jo “Amy” Grey, 47, of Newport News — was killed in the crash.
The trooper will not face criminal charges in the case after Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Hamel announced Thursday that the trooper’s actions were a “justified exercise of self-defense.”
The incident was investigated by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Chesapeake Field Office, which reviewed dash camera video, scene photographs, the autopsy of Price and interviews of all involved officers. The findings of the investigation and the commonwealth’s attorney’s subsequent decision mapped out a timeline of events from Nov. 6, 2021, that led to the fatal crash and shooting, tracing the initial police call to a Wawa in Newport News.
Police were dispatched around 4 p.m. to a Newport News store on Jefferson Avenue for a report of a “belligerent” man who “appeared to be intoxicated on drugs.” The caller also reported that the man, later identified as Price, had physically assaulted a cashier.
When police arrived, Price had just left, heading south on Jefferson Avenue with Grey in the passenger seat. A pursuit ensued.
Family members said later that Grey and Price were dating. But the brief conversation, Drew said, caused the officer to think that Grey might have been in the car against her will.
As officers caught up with the car, they observed Grey opening the passenger door “in what appeared to be an attempted to get out of the vehicle” before the door closed again. While stopped at a red light, an officer in the next lane spoke with Grey, who referenced a kidnapping, and saw Price attempt to restrain her before driving off.
When Price drove onto I-664 southbound just before 5 p.m., Newport News officers requested the assistance of state police for a vehicle pursuit and a possible abduction.
A trooper took the lead in the pursuit as Price traveled south over the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel into Suffolk, and as the trooper maneuvered his vehicle in front of Price, he was rammed several times from behind. While the strikes were not captured by the forward facing dash camera, the sound of the strikes and movement were “readily apparent,” Hamel’s statement read.
As the pursuit continued, Price struck the trooper’s vehicle again before losing control of the Chevrolet and tumbling down an embankment to the right of the interstate. The trooper doubled back to the scene as Newport News officers arrived.
Grey, who was pinned under the crashed car, died at the scene, while Price was spotted fleeing on foot into the wood line carrying what officers described as a long pole or a stick.
The trooper, who returned to his vehicle to intercept Price, located him nearby minutes later walking along the westbound lanes of the U.S. 58 underpass below I-664.
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The trooper, carrying a rifle and a sidearm, exited his vehicle to approach Price. While a dash camera captured the initial foot chase, the pair disappeared out of view just before three shots rang out.
According to the trooper, he fell backwards to the ground after Price struck him in the chest with a “pipe-like object.” Price raised the object to strike him again, so the trooper fired his rifle from his hip three times.
Newport News officers arrived on foot shortly after and tried to render aid, but Price died at the scene. An autopsy by the Office of the Medical Examiner in Norfolk found two gunshot wounds to his chest — either of which would have been fatal, the attorney’s decision read — and a gunshot wound to Price’s right forearm. The medical examiner determined the pattern of Price’s wounds was not inconsistent with the trooper’s account of Price standing over him, wielding the metal pole to strike him, when he fired the gun. A post-mortem toxicology report showed Price had controlled substances in his blood.
At the scene, officers found a 4-to 5-foot metal pole, believed to be a curtain or shower rod, near Price’s body. Three .223 caliber shell casings from the trooper’s rifle were also recovered.
According to the commonwealth’s attorney, the trooper lawfully performed his duties, and no further action will be sought by his office.
At the time of his death, Price was supervised by Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Health as part of his conditional release after Chesapeake Circuit Court found him not guilty by reason of insanity to malicious wounding in 2017. He was released from a mental hospital in March 2020 under conditions including that he take his prescribed medications, go to therapy and routinely meet with a psychiatrist, according to court records first reported on by The Associated Press. However, the commonwealth attorney noted the Integrated Behavioral Health documented Price’s use of amphetamines without a valid prescriptions as late as September 2021, two months before his death.
Caitlyn Burchett, 727-267-6059, firstname.lastname@example.org