Virginia Beach Police release body camera footage of fatal officer shooting
Editor's note: This story contains profane language.
An unnamed Virginia Beach police officer fatally shot 28-year-old Deshawn Whitaker on Dec. 1 after identifying the car Whitaker was driving as stolen, police said.
This week, VBPD voluntarily released body camera footage of the interaction — an action police departments in Virginia always have the option to do, but often decline because the footage is part of active investigations. In this case, the department released the footage despite two ongoing investigations.
“We also have a lot of misinformation that’s bubbling up in our community and beginning to take [on] a life of its own,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said at a press conference on Monday, where he shared the video. “Therefore, the police department felt it was imperative to share these videos with the community.”
According to the department’s original press release about the incident, Whitaker ran as the officer tried to detain him.
The officer then tried to take a female passenger, 20-year-old Jacqueline Ortiz, who is Whitaker’s wife.
In the video, the officer and Ortiz struggled. As the officer pointed his weapon at her, she yelled to Whitaker: “Help me. Babe, help me.”
The department said she “repeatedly” reached for her own gun in the waistband of her pants.
At one point, the officer yelled at Ortiz, “Let go of the fucking gun.”
At that point, the department said Whitaker returned and pointed a gun at the officer.
The officer pulled his own weapon and fired four times, striking Whitaker.
In the video, the body camera footage of that interaction is distorted because of a glare from the sun, but once Whitaker falls to the ground, there is a weapon on the ground.
The body camera footage can be viewed on WHRO's website.
Whitaker was taken to a hospital and died a day later.
Neudigate said he’s waiting on autopsy results to determine where and how many times Whitaker was shot.
Neudigate said the commonwealth’s attorney will make the final call on whether the shooting was justified.
The department’s own homicide unit is conducting the criminal investigation. Once those two things are done, the department’s Internal Affairs unit will also do an administrative review.
According to a police spokesperson, the officer has worked on and off in the Virginia Beach police department for eight years and has a 14-year law enforcement career. He is on administrative assignment while the investigations are completed.
WHRO’s Mechelle Hankerson contributed to this report.