Friday, July 25, 2014

Officer cleared

Report details events of Annex shooting

There will be no charges filed against a Liberty University security officer after the shooting of a student last November at Residential Annex II, according to a report released Feb. 25.

In the 10-page report written by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeffrey Bennett, Bennett concluded that A.S. Mulberry shot Joshua Hathaway in an act of self-defense in the early morning of Nov. 19, 2013.

Bennett received the complete case file from the Lynchburg Police Department Feb. 12, after they received the autopsy report Jan. 20, according to the report.

“The investigation of any death takes significant time to complete in a thorough and exhaustive manner,” Bennett wrote. “We strive to make decisions and release information as quickly as reasonably possible.”

To come to his conclusion, Bennett explained in his report that he examined DNA and forensics tests as well as interviews, search warrants and computer analysis.

According to the report, Hathaway entered the Annex II lobby holding his bleeding head telling Mulberry he had been mugged and his car had been stolen. After radioing for a medic and a police officer, Mulberry asked Hathaway to sit down while Mulberry retrieved a first aid kit from his car, but Hathaway began to follow him.

“At this point, Mulberry estimated Hathaway was ‘maybe a pace away’ from him when his demeanor changed entirely and he … produced a yellow-handled mallet from under his shirt and raised it.”

Bennett wrote that Mulberry and Hathaway began to grapple with one another, which resulted in Hathaway dropping the mallet, but that did not stop him.

“Mulberry felt Hathaway ‘starting to claw at (his) neck,’ and again attempted to put space between himself and Hathaway,” the report stated.

Mulberry and Hathaway continued to struggle. Hathaway pushed Mulberry to the ground and tried to reach for Mulberry’s gun, Bennett wrote.

The two continued to struggle, and Mulberry eventually broke free and fired his weapon.

Although initially in question, the autopsy revealed that no drugs or alcohol were found in Hathaway’s system. He died from a gunshot wound to the chest, the report stated.

According to Bennett, after interviewing several people, Hathaway’s motive never became clear. Some claimed he was experiencing pressure from school and finances or finding it hard to sleep and struggling with depression, while others said they noticed nothing peculiar about his behavior.

“There is no question that the officer feared for his life when he shot,” Bennett wrote. “The threat to his life was not only reasonably perceived, but based on the evidence, quite real.”

According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, Mulberry will not return to work for at least another week.

“There is no reason to doubt (Mulberry’s) veracity or recollection,” Bennett wrote. “The condition of the crime scene and the physical evidence are consistent with his recall of the morning’s events.”

The report is a public document on file at ftpcontent.worldnow.com

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