Family of man shot at Centra hospital want LPD off the case
LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - The family of a man shot four times in Lynchburg's Centra Hospital by an on-duty security guard is calling for an independent investigation of the incident.
The family says both the shooter and the hospital have ties to police and the Commonwealth's Attorney.
Paul Valois, the attorney representing the family of 28-year-old Jonathan Warner, says the shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down, and he says the family wants to make sure the investigation is done right.
However, Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Ducette says he doesn't see any conflict of interest.
The security guard involved in the shooting, Wes Gillespie, is a former Lynchburg Police officer, and has a son currently serving in the department.
The family argues there is a potential for a biased investigation, but Ducette says those fears are unfounded.
In a statement Thursday, Ducette says "Wes Gillespie, used to be a member of the Lynchburg Police Department but that was a very long time ago. To put some time frame on what constitutes a "very long time ago," I have been in the Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for 32 years and Mr. Gillespie was no longer with LPD in 1984."
Valois says he disagrees.
"Even though he was employed there many years ago, in the position he holds at Centra's Emergency Room, he interacts frequently with law enforcement on a daily basis and appears to have a long-standing relationship with them," said Valois.
Valois says the police aren't the only ones with a tie to this investigation.
"One of the senior prosecutors in the Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney's office is married to a clinical psychologist who is employed by Centra Mental Health Services, and so again the family would prefer to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest," said Valois.
Valois has been investigating the case, and says he's already found a problem.
"Disturbingly, what I found there is the narrative is significantly different from the narrative that was provided in the initial press release by the Lynchburg Police Department," said Valois.
In the release, it states Warner was in an active fight with Gillespie when the shooting occurred, but in the affidavit signed by a Detective Davis, it states Warner "ran through the center" when he was shot.
In response, Ducette says "I would conclude that the affidavit, while not wrong, is inartfully drafted and that the press release is more accurate."
Valois says he intends to find out what happened, even if it means filing a lawsuit.
"Many witnesses have come forward, including an eye witness to the shooting, who I spoke with yesterday. So we are getting some independent information," said Valois.
Ducette says as part of his office's investigation, he is waiting on the toxicology report on Warner's blood to come back to see if he was on any drugs at the time.
He says that could take 3 to 6 months to complete.
Valois says the family hasn't decided yet whether or not to take the issue to court.
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