A Norfolk, Va., police officer has been found not guilty of manslaughter in the June 2014 shooting of a mentally ill black man, even though other officers testified that the man was not a threat at the time he was fatally shot, the Virginia-Pilot reports.
According to the Daily Mail, 35-year-old David Latham suffered from schizophrenia and had gotten into an argument inside his family’s home. Latham’s family called police after Latham grabbed a knife. Latham still had the knife when police arrived.
‘He didn’t make any movements. He was just standing there. He wasn’t a threat, or he wasn’t enough of one for me to fire on him,” Officer Dennis Conley testified.
Officer Michael Edington did shoot; in fact, he shot nine times, and later testified that Latham had made a threatening move toward him.
“Edington has been on administrative leave since being indicted for voluntary manslaughter by a special grand jury in June last year, a year after Latham’s death,” the Daily Mail reports.
A jury found Edington not guilty of manslaughter Thursday.
The newspaper reported during the trial that Edington’s legal team was trying to block testimony from another officer who said Edington joked about Latham’s death a month after killing him.
Edington’s attorneys did block testimony from a friend who told the Virginia-Pilot that the officer joked about the shooting during a party. According to the newspaper, the friend was playing with a pocketknife when Edington reportedly said, “You remember the last guy that was playing with a knife, what happened to him?”
The Daily Mail reports that Latham’s family launched a civil lawsuit in March seeking $9 million in compensation.