Officers cleared in shooting death

Published 9:55 pm Monday, May 10, 2010

Two officers who fired on a man wielding a shotgun on the balcony of his Central Avenue home in March, fatally wounding him, have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident, Suffolk’s commonwealth’s attorney announced Monday.

Both officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident. Suffolk spokesperson Debbie George said they had been returned to active, full duty effective on Monday.

Tedlee Hargrove, 49, of 213 Central Ave. was shot once in the arm by police responding to a call about a fight in progress in front of Hargrove’s home, according to police reports and the Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson’s report.

Email newsletter signup

Hargrove died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital March 27. He had been flown there and underwent surgery for a laceration to his brachial artery, Ferguson’s report states, noting that Hargrove had died of multiple organ failure resulting from hemorrhagic shock and “a stormy post operative course.”

Police had been called to Central Avenue to respond to a large disturbance, and Officers Tyron Langston and James Babor were the first to arrive on the scene, according to Ferguson’s account, which was gleaned from police audio records and interviews with officers and other witnesses.

Witnesses told investigators that Hargrove fired a shot from the shotgun into the air as Langston and Babor were approaching the intersection of Pinner Street and Central Avenue, and the officers said they heard that shot before they turned onto Central.

After stopping their vehicles, Langston and Babor exited and confronted Hargrove, “repeatedly command(ing) Hargrove to drop the gun and raise his hands,” prosecutors said. Within seconds, the audio recording picked up the sounds of several gunshots as officers fired their weapons.

The investigation revealed that Langston fired his Beretta .40-caliber service weapon five times, and Babor fired his service weapon twice. Investigators were unable to determine who fired the shot that struck Hargrove, the report states.

“Langston told investigators that neither officer was able to take cover, and that they fired when Hargrove picked up the shotgun after originally appearing to place it on the floor,” Ferguson’s report states. “Langston stated he was in fear of his life and the lives of others at the time he fired his service pistol at Hargrove.”

The report states that witness accounts varied about the chain of events, but “a number of these witnesses substantiate the accounts of Langston and Babor.”

Ferguson’s report indicates that Hargrove should not have had a firearm in the first place, as he had been placed on “first offender” status by the Suffolk Circuit Court for possession of cocaine and had been forbidden by his probation officer from owning or possessing one.

When they searched his upstairs apartment following the shooting, however, police found not only the shotgun, but also a handgun, spent and unspent shotgun shells and a smoking device with cocaine residue lying on the arm of a couch just inside the door that led to the balcony.

Ferguson’s report did not address whether or not drugs were found in Hargrove’s system.

The man’s actions at the time of the incident, however, led directly to the shooting, Ferguson indicated in his letter closing the case.

“The entire incident took place in mere seconds,” he wrote. “In my opinion, the officers acted reasonably, given the facts as they appeared and evolved.”