Police: YPSO deputy put on leave after he discharges firearm during traffic stop

Staff writer

A York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he discharged his firearm during a traffic stop.

At approximately 6:40 p.m. Feb. 21, a sheriff’s office deputy initiated a traffic stop on Merrimac Trail after the deputy saw a vehicle without its headlights on, according to a York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office news release.

The vehicle stopped 500 feet into the city limits of Williamsburg at the entrance of the Parkway Apartments, the release said. When the deputy approached the vehicle with his firearm drawn, the driver’s door swung open and the deputy discharged his firearm, according to the release. The bullet ricocheted off the ground and hit the driver’s door.

There were no injuries, the release said.

Two William and Mary law school students were inside the car at the time of incident, according to a college official.

“They are understandably scared and have questions. The dean of the law school, representatives from student affairs, William (and) Mary Police and other senior administrators met with the students and their classmates this afternoon at the law school,” said Sam Jones, chairman of the college emergency management team, in an email to the college’s faculty, staff and students on Friday.

The sheriff’s office has initially deemed the incident an accident. The deputies’ name, rank and experience have been withheld by the sheriff’s office as they intend to investigate the incident as an internal personnel matter.

The Williamsburg Police Department also is investigating the incident as it occurred within city limits, according to department spokesman John Heilman. The department’s findings will be submitted to the Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, and a determination will be made about whether or not criminal charges are necessary.

No charges were pressed against the driver of the shot vehicle, Heilman said Friday.

In a statement, Sheriff Danny Diggs apologized and called the incident unfortunate.

“Anything … less than (a) perfect response regarding an interaction between police and citizens is something that should be reviewed,” Diggs said. “This was an unfortunate accident with no malice or ill intent towards the occupants of the vehicle. Thankfully no one was injured in this event. We understand how an accidental discharge like this can have an impact on the community and we would like to express our sincerest apology to anyone who has been negatively impacted by this.”

Staff writer Jack Jacobs contributed to this report.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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