The top prosecutor in Williamsburg and James City County has said he will not seek criminal charges against the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputy who, it was determined, accidentally discharged his firearm during a routine traffic stop.
Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green said Monday afternoon his office could find no evidence that deputy sheriff Kalyn Hall purposefully shot his firearm in a reckless manner, according to a final report on the matter.
At about 6:40 p.m. Feb. 21, Hall initiated a traffic stop on Merrimac Trail. Hall turned on his emergency lights and used several different sirens, but the vehicle didn’t stop for almost a quarter mile, the report said. The vehicle then turned left into the Parkway Apartments complex on Merrimac Trail and came to a stop.
“Hall’s (body camera) was engaged and what transpires next is clear from the recording,” Green wrote in the report.
Hall stepped out of his cruiser and came within feet of the stopped vehicle when the driver’s door opened and the driver stepped out of the vehicle simultaneously, according to the report.
Less than a second later, Hall drew his handgun from its holster while he told the driver to stay in the car and accidentally pulled the trigger, the report said.
“The presence of his finger on the trigger of the weapon may have been ill-advised, and evidence of some level of negligence,” Green said. At no time did Hall level his firearm in the direction of the driver, passenger or the vehicle itself, according to Green.
The bullet hit the road near the back of the stopped car and bounced into the driver’s door of the vehicle, according to the report.
“Hall displayed behavior consistent with being surprised that his weapon had fired,” Green wrote. “He immediately stated (expletives) in an excited tone and reversed his course...”
Hall then called the backup deputy to inform him the gunshot came from his service weapon and he called dispatchers to have a supervisor sent to the site of the shooting, the report said. Hall apologized to the driver of the vehicle when asked why he shot his gun.
Both the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office and Williamsburg Police Department secured the site of the shooting, took Hall’s handgun, interviewed witnesses and collected evidence, according to the report.
The following day, Hall told a Williamsburg Police Department investigator that he’d been surprised by the driver. He was attempting to put his firearm in the “low and ready position” and as he took it from his holster he’d shot off a round, the report said. Hall told the investigator he did not realize his finger was on the trigger.
There were no injuries and the sheriff’s office has said it will pay for the damages to the vehicle, according to York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shelley Ward.
The driver and passenger of the vehicle are students at the College of William and Mary, according to college spokeswoman Suzanne Clavet.
College officials met with the two students at the law school the day after the shooting to hear their concerns, Clavet said. Administrators also spoke to a group of students about the incident.
“The university’s focus has and remains on making sure the students involved have the support they need,” Clavet said.
The sheriff’s office previously declined to identify the deputy involved in the shooting and investigated the incident as a personnel matter.
The Williamsburg Police Department criminally investigated the incident, as it occurred within city limits, according to department spokesman John Heilman.
Hall was placed on administrative leave with pay during the investigations, which concluded Friday. Hall was ordered to take additional training, which he completed Monday and returned to work, according to Ward.
Hall’s official rank is deputy sheriff and he has five years of law enforcement experience Ward said, the last year at the sheriff’s office.
Hall’s brief history at the sheriff’s office included an incident where he and a 911 dispatcher saved a York County man's life. That landed him a moment on the Today Show in New York City last November, where he and the dispatcher met the man he’d saved.
In a statement, Sheriff Danny Diggs thanked Green and the Williamsburg Police Department for taking on the external investigation.
“I appreciate the efforts of the investigators with the Williamsburg Police Department and thoroughness of Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green’s analysis of this incident resulting in the swift conclusion of this investigation,” Diggs said. “Their independent investigation validated that this was an unintentional discharge of a firearm.”
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.