An attempted detainment quickly escalated to a fight for survival for a Virginia police officer as the struggle ensued in the driver’s seat — of the moving police cruiser.
Thursday in Alexandria, Virginia, a member of the Fairfax County Police was following up on a report of a stolen U-Haul when Chief Kevin Davis said he was “violently attacked.” Witness footage of the incident shared on social media captured the harrowing moments as questioning led to gunshots.
In the video, the officer and the suspected U-Haul thief, 38-year-old Brandon Lemagne, could be seen fighting as the man appears to be trying to unholster the cop’s sidearm beside the open door of the cruiser. As the pair continued to wrestle, the parked vehicle shifted was somehow shifted into reverse and it could be seen accelerating out of the gas station before crashing into another car in the McDonald’s parking lot next door where gunshots could be heard.
During the struggle, Davis said the officer managed to call for backup which arrived quickly on the scene, surrounding the cruiser. It was then that an assisting officer appeared to pull the suspect from the vehicle before three additional shots could be heard.
Warning: Graphic Content
BREKING NEWS: POLICE INVOLVED SHOOTING: Richmond highway near the Walmart: Fairfax Co. is on the scene of a police involved shooting with one individual dead on scene after an altercation with one of the officers. 2 vehicles were struck and also property damage (McDonald’s). pic.twitter.com/tPAvLaPHlS
— Killmoenetwork inc. (@Killmoenetwork) May 11, 2023
During a press conference later that day, Davis explained, “This scene was highly unusual and I’ve been on a lot of these scenes. I have never quite seen something like this. That police officer, this was literally inside of his own police car fighting for his life.”
According to Fairfax County Police, Lemagne had been seen stepping out of the U-Haul that had been reported stolen May 3 and the as yet unnamed officer approached and informed him that he was being detained. It was then that the suspect began “violently attacking” the officer.
The first series of gunshots were said to have been from the officer’s holstered weapon which Lemagne had been unable to pull free. As yet unreleased bodycam footage was said to capture the fight within the officer’s vehicle not depicted by the witness video. That footage is required to be released within 30 days of the incident and the names of the officers within 10, according to WUSA9 who shared another angle of the out of control cruiser.
Solid on-scene report from @KatieLusso @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/BsOkEFtEbh
— Romeo (@RVANOVA01) May 11, 2023
As far as the actions of the officers who arrived in support of their embattled comrade, Davis commended the swift actions that neutralized the threat.
“He pulls the assailant literally off our police officer. And then that Fairfax County Police officer discharges his firearm, striking the assailant, who is pronounced dead on the scene,” he said Thursday.
Speaking with WUSA9, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said, “[M]y team is undertaking an independent and thorough review. I can assure the community that I will come to an independent decision in this matter.”
In the meantime, the officers involved, whom The Washington Post reported had 24 and eight years of service, respectively, were placed on restricted duty for the duration of the investigation and did not receive any serious injuries. WUSA9 noted the deceased assailant had reportedly assaulted a deputy with the York County Sheriff’s Office in 2015 when he was being arrested for fraudulent credit card charges.
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