LYNCHBURG, Va. – A grand jury has indicted two Lynchburg police officers after a man suffered permanent partial vision loss after being shot in his own home.
The incident happened at a home on Link Road on Feb. 17. Police say they were investigating suspicious activity when they found a man, Walker Sigler, inside the home and shot him in the leg.
Nearly four months after Sigler was shot inside his home, two Lynchburg police officers face felony charges, including reckless handling of a firearm resulting in serious bodily injury, unlawful wounding and unlawful shooting at an occupied domicile.
Edward Ferron, 41, has been with the Lynchburg Police Department for 17 years. Savannah Simmons, 22, has 1½ years of experience with the department.
"Two of our officers have been indicted for three felony charges. That hurts," Chief Raul Diaz said. "We're going to continue to do our job. We're going to continue to be professional. We're going to continue to go out and protect and serve. It's not going to slow us down."
Both officers are out on bail and 10 News visited both of their homes in an attempt to get their sides of the story. We did not get to speak with either of them, but we did speak with a neighbor of Savannah Simmons.
Kevin Schmitt is not only Simmons' landlord, he's also her neighbor, a retired police officer himself, and trained Simmons at the police academy.
"She was a good student going through the academy, she worked really hard, this is something that she wanted to do, she was very young when she chose to be a police officer," Schmitt said. "She's very self-conscious about the rules."
Schmitt said Simmons is a kind, caring woman who takes care of her disabled mother. He feels for all involved and wants the public to wait for more details before picking sides.
"In my 29 years of law enforcement, I've been in these situations, and officers have a microsecond, less than a second in some cases, to make a life or death decision," Schmitt said. "I hate to see that she's going through this and I hate it for everybody involved, there are no winners in any of this and I hate to see that all involved are going through it."
10 News requested the files for both officers, but Lynchburg Police Department told us those are personnel records and therefore exempt under Virginia's public information laws.
B.B. Shavers, a community activist in Lynchburg, said the news of the indictments show there needs to be more training for their officers.
"Prayers to the family, but after, I think we need a greater job at preparation for the LPD, different types of training," Shavers said.
Shavers suggests the department should have trainings that involve community engagement, such making sure the officers know the areas well.
"You're talking about Link Road area in Lynchburg. That's not an area that's been so-called known as a crime-infectious area or anything like that," Shavers said.
Sigler's attorney contacted 10 News, saying, "Walker was shot through the closed front doors of his own home, while his wife -- 8 months pregnant -- and two little boys -- 6 and 3 years old -- slept upstairs. The bullet shattered Walker's leg and blood loss causing him to be partially visually impaired."
10 News asked Diaz if the incident will change his officers' protocol.
"We're constantly looking at our policies and procedures, and we're updating them to make sure that we're doing the best practices throughout the country. With that being said, this is still ongoing," he said.
Both officers were given bail by a judge and are on paid administrative leave until their trials end. No date has been scheduled for those yet.
The maximum penalty on each count is 5 years in prison.
Because a grand jury has decided to bring indictments, all body camera footage is now considered evidence. After the matter has been adjudicated, the Commonwealth's Attorney could release the body camera footage.