Richmond, Virginia

From Richmond’s WRIC.com of September 7, 2007

Store employee shoots robbery suspect

Richmond police say a man who robbed an ice-cream shop with a fake gun was shot to death by the store manager.

Police say the suspect entered the Baskin-Robbins store last night brandishing a BB gun that looked like a semiautomatic weapon and demanded money.

Police say a clerk handed over cash, and then the store manager grabbed a semiautomatic handgun from behind the counter and fired multiple times at the thief, striking him at least once as he fled.

Officers found the bleeding man lying on the ground about 100 yards away in front of a home believed to be his residence. He died a short time later in a Richmond hospital.

Police identified the dead man as 43-year-old Jerome Davis. Investigators said Davis was released from prison roughly nine months ago after doing time for robbery.

A police spokeswoman said investigators will consult with the Richmond commonwealth’s attorney’s office to determine whether charges will be filed.

From Richmond’s WTVR.com of September 8, 2007

What Will Happen To Ice Cream Store Manager Who Killed Robber?

Handclaps or handcuffs? An “attaboy” or an arrest warrant?

When robbery victims strike back, you can almost see Lady Justice rolling her eyes, especially when the robber winds up fatally shot while trying to make his getaway.

That’s apparently what happened Thursday night when a career criminal fresh out of prison stuck up the Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors at 6940 Forest Hill Avenue, just around the corner from his house.

Lady Justice won’t care that the deceased robber, 43-year-old Jerome Davis, wielded a BB gun. The self-defense statutes say if the victim thinks it’s a gun – especially if the perp is using it like a real gun – then it is the legal equivalent of a functional, fully loaded firearm.

But the law gets much blurrier when the robber gets shot while in the act of fleeing. Jerome Davis was shot at least once in the back while allegedly trying to run out of the store. He managed to run the few blocks to his Cherokee Road home before collapsing in the yard, where police dogs found him bleeding to death.

So what will happen to the as-yet unnamed store manager?

Short answer: Probably nothing.

He’ll likely have to sweat it out for a while, and then live with the knowledge he killed somebody, which might not be as simple as it seems.

It’s been a long, long time since the victim of a store robbery was prosecuted for blasting off.

You may remember Mark Hazelgrove, whose Jackson Ward convenience store was robbed a couple of times in the mid-90s. He wound up shooting at a carload of young robbers fleeing his store in January of ‘95, winging two of them and killing the getaway car’s engine.

A grand jury heard the facts and decided not to indict Hazelgrove for unlawfully wounding the teens.

Three months later Hazelgrove – still a little gun-shy from the previous robbery – fired four shots in the air outside of his store as yet another robber ran away. He wound up being arrested for discharging his firearm in a public place, although the public outcry drowned out that charge.

Often, these kinds of cases aren’t decided by cops or prosecutors, but rather the citizens who sit on grand juries. And those citizens don’t like robbers, especially since it’s usually the store workers who wind up dead during these violent confrontations.

Former Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney David M. Hicks oversaw the Hazelgrove case.

The so-called fleeing felon rule, and its defacto expansion of the self-defense statutes, is a sticky area of the law, Hicks said Friday night.

The fleeing felon rule allows citizens (and law enforcement) to neutralize a real and continuing threat. The robber may not have shot you, but he could shoot the next victim, or anyone else who gets in his way.

The idea that Davis may have been fleeing the store – threat supposedly over – isn’t necessarily a big deal, Hicks said, since robbers have been known to return and open fire.

A key question, Hicks said Friday night, is how many shots did the ice cream shop manager fire? Where did they go? In other words, was his response reckless – perhaps just as dangerous as the robbery itself? (A neighbor tells CBS 6 that he heard about five shots. Police have not told us how many times Davis was hit.)

There are three likely choices: Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring could announce that he’s not going to file charges; Herring could have the store manager arrested and charged with manslaughter; or Herring could turn over the facts from the police investigation to the grand jury, which seems to be the most likely choice.

There’s not much sympathy for robbers these days. The city has seen more than 700 individuals or businesses robbed already this year, a big surge over 2006.

And, as most of you know, when people die during robberies, it’s usually the victim.

Two months ago, Lin Zi Ping was shot to death at his Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant on Williamsburg Road, within sight of police officers on a stakeout trying to stop a rash of hold-ups.

We’ve seen it over and over again – way too many times; some lost soul or lawless renegade taking the fruits of someone else’s labor, and then taking that person’s life.

My guess is most people are dead sick of this. I know I am. You hold up a store, you wave a gun around at innocent people, you waive your right to life.

So you probably won’t see either handclaps or handcuffs from Lady Justice in this case. But don’t be surprised if there’s a little wink.

From Richmond’s NBC12.com of September 10, 2007

Petition defends Baskin-Robbins worker who shot robber

A robbery and subsequent shooting at Baskin-Robbins last week is stirring up a lot of emotion in the community — so much so that residents in one Richmond neighborhood have started a petition to keep the employee who pulled the trigger from being prosecuted.

Many Stratford Hills residents have signed the petitions that will be handed to the commonwealth’s attorney. They’re asking Michael Herring not to press charges against the worker for killing the robber, 43-year-old Jerome Davis.

Davis’ family sees it differently.

“He shot the first time,” said Marcus Davis. “My uncle didn’t shoot back, so he knew his life wasn’t in danger.”

Davis’ niece and nephew say the worker should be behind bars.

The police department’s investigation isn’t over. Until it’s finished, prosecutors can’t comment on whether criminal charges will be filed in this case.

A Baskin-Robbins employee shot and killed Jerome Davis after he held up the store with a BB gun. Police say Davis had been shot several times, including once in the back. The medical examiner ruled it was the back injury that killed Davis.

“I think deadly force would be justified,” said Richard Diggs, who started circulating a petition Saturday in neighborhood businesses.

Many people have already signed the forms. The petition is addressed to Michael Herring and asks him not to charge the employee with any criminal wrongdoing.

The petitions will be collected until Wednesday, then taken to Herring’s office downtown.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch of September 28, 2007

Ice-cream manager facing case

Prosecutors want firearms charge in fatal shooting of robber in South Side

Richmond prosecutors will seek a felony indictment on a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm against the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream parlor manager who fatally shot a man who robbed the store this month.

“We have considered everything the police officers have brought in, the witnesses interviewed, the review of the scene and the forensic evidence collected, and I believe there is probable cause that a crime has been committed,” said Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring, explaining his decision to present evidence to a grand jury.

Herring is expected to formally announce his decision at a news conference this morning.

According to police, on Sept. 6 Jerome Davis, 43, entered the Baskin-Robbins at 6940 Forest Hill Ave. waving a BB gun version of a 9mm handgun and demanded money from the register. The shift manager, David Fielding, handed over cash and change.

According to investigators, Davis ordered Fielding, another Baskin-Robbins employee and the lone customer to go to the back of the store.

Once in the back of the store, investigators said, Fielding produced his own 9mm gun from his waistband. The 21-year-old art student at Virginia Commonwealth University moved back toward the front counter of the store and opened fire, causing Davis to flee.

Investigators said it appears three of the shots fired that night by Fielding were fired from inside the store. Outside the store, investigators found evidence of eight additional shots fired.

Davis, a career criminal with a record of robberies and prison time, was hit twice — once in the hand and once in the back. He died a short distance away in front of his home in the 2900 block of Cherokee Road, a couple of blocks behind the ice-cream parlor.

Herring said he has decided to seek an indictment against Fielding for reckless discharge, not manslaughter, because it cannot be determined whether the shot that killed Davis was fired from inside or outside the store.

“One volley of shots appears to have been arguably reasonable,” Herring said. “And from what I’ve seen, the other volley of shots does not.”

“The robber’s trial should not have taken place in the parking lot of the Baskin-Robbins,” he said.

Reckless discharge is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Herring said he wanted the grand jury to decide whether the second round of shots was reckless.

“If they believe they were, then they have the option to indict,” Herring said. “If they don’t, then I have to respect that decision.”

(More,) including the prosecutors statement, “If there’s anything I want people to take away from this, it’s that I don’t think more guns is in any way a good thing,” the prosecutor added.

“It’s only a matter of time before some victim hits an innocent bystander. Then what?”

Further to this incident
(This will be moved to the original post in seven days.)

From Richmond’s WTVR.com of November 5, 2007

Ice Cream Store Manager Not Indicted

A Richmond Grand Jury will NOT indict the Baskin-Robbins store manager with felony reckless discharge of a gun.

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring says he will not pursue any further charges.

David Fielding Shot and killed Jerome Davis during a robbery at the Baskin-Robbins on Forest Hill Avenue on September 6th.

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