Lynchburg Mayor talks about death investigation - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Lynchburg Mayor talks about death investigation

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Lynchburg Mayor Michael Gillette and Vice Mayor Ceasor Johnson spoke Friday afternoon about the death of Levon DeShawn Martin, 29, of Lynchburg. He died Wednesday.

Lynchburg Police say just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, they went to home in the 2200 block of Tulip Street to serve two arrests warrants. Martin was not one of people named in the arrest warrants.

When officers arrived, they say Martin ran and after a chase, he surrendered to officers without incident. Lynchburg Police officers say they did not use Tasers or any other use of force.

Officers walked Martin back to Tulip Street and say he appeared to be in normal condition.

"At this point, he told the officers that he was not the fugitive officers were seeking. As they neared Tulip Street, Martin became lethargic and collapsed," said a Lynchburg Police news release. "Officers immediately summoned emergency medical assistance to the scene. Lynchburg Fire and EMS transported Martin to Lynchburg General Hospital."

Martin died Wednesday at 2 p.m. Police said Wednesday they believed Martin suffered from a medical emergency while in the officers' care.

"Something very tragic happened this week. Whenever anyone dies it diminishes all of us," said Mayor Michael Gillette. "Our hearts go out to his friends and his family."

The Mayor said Friday that equipment tests verified Tasers were not used Tuesday.

The mayor said their immediate concern is to investigate the specifics of the event but the broader concern is a community discussion that will play out over time.

"Dealing with complex relationships and human emotions and perceptions and varying experiences is a complicated affair and for us to think that somehow we should have an event and a response and be done, and then wait for the next event and have a response and done and that we will respond in that sort of piecemeal way to specific events I think that's a mistake," said the Mayor.

He recalled previous Lynchburg community discussions on race and racism.

"I'm confident that the dialogue was very, very effective and helped us move forward. We have to be careful to make sure that we don't destroy any fragile progress we may have made. We also can't not sugarcoat situations and make it seem as though we did a dialogue on race and racism so now there is no racism left and we have no racial tension. That would just be an absolute mischaracterization of the situation," said the Mayor. "It requires continual vigilance to work hard to make sure everybody feels as though they are a meaningful and valued member of our community."

Vice Mayor Johnson says he is aware the community wants answers after they've held protests and vigils this week.

Virginia State Police is investigating. The Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney is also following the investigation.

An autopsy is underway to determine the exact cause of death.

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