Lynchburg Police say they have completed their internal investigation into the officer-involved shooting that seriously wounded Walker Sigler as he stood unarmed inside his home. Chief Ryan Zuidema tells Reporter Andre Whitehead the department “could have done better”, and a new policy is now in effect, with scenario training to reinforce it:
Zuidema says Lynchburg Police must make split-second decisions based on information they have at the moment, and in most cases, the officers get it right. But he says it is clear that in this case, they did not.
Here is Zuidema’s full opening statement: 01-30 Zuidema Statement
NEWS RELEASE: The Lynchburg Police Department has completed its internal investigation into the officer-involved shooting that occurred Feb. 17, 2018 on Link Road. This was a tragic situation for all involved. We know the repercussions from this tragic event have been, and will continue to be, a difficult road for many. We do not take that lightly.
The Lynchburg Police Department wants to thank the community for its patience. We recognize that this has been a lengthy investigation and we wish we could have shared this information sooner, but we have not been able to comment on or complete several pieces of the investigation due to pending criminal and civil litigation. Now that both are complete, we want to ensure transparency and help facilitate healing by providing the outcome of our internal review as well as what we have changed to make sure this does not happen again.
Every day, our officers make split second decisions based on the information they have at the time. The overwhelming majority of the time, we get it right. What occurred nearly two years ago on Feb. 17, 2018 was an anomaly for the LPD, not our standard, and as always, we strive to ensure that your police department is among the most highly trained agencies in the Commonwealth.
We absolutely recognize that we could have done better in this situation. We have reviewed this incident, as we do for all uses of force, and as a result of that investigation we have enhanced our current policies so that officers can better assess situations like this in the future. All of our officers have been trained on that new policy. A portion of that training included information we received from Special Prosecutor Bryan Porter, the Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney, about a Virginia Court of Appeals case relevant to these situations.
Since this incident, we also have worked with our partners at the Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy, where all LPD officers receive their initial law enforcement training, to ensure that topics coveredare consistent with relevant case law.
Prior to the Lynchburg Police Department taking any administrative action in relation to this incident, both Eddie Ferron and Savannah Simmons resigned from the department.
We want to thank the Virginia State Police and Special Prosecutor Bryan Porter for their objective review of what happened that night. We also want to recognize the professionalism of the LPD sworn and professional staff in handling questions and concerns that arose as a result of this tragic incident.
We are committed to working with the community to better serve the needs of this City, and we are dedicated to serving as a police department residents and visitors can trust.