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New details in officer-involved shooting; mother, father of Chase Austin speak out

Commonwealth's Attorney's officials talk justice system procedures

ROANOKE, Va.New information has been released in the officer-involved shooting of Chase Austin in Roanoke.

The medical examiner has confirmed that Austin, 28, died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The Vinton man was shot Wednesday after investigators said he pointed a stolen gun at an officer at the Krispy Kreme in Roanoke.
 
The medical examiner would not say how many times Austin was shot, though two other bullet holes shattered a car window and pierced through a nearby dumpster.

Austin's family said they still haven't been able to see his body, and they feel he may be alive today if his previous run-ins with the law had been handled differently.

Austin's mother, Lori Hall, told 10 News over Facebook: 

"My son was a caring loving individual, he was not violent."      
"... we are all very confused, frustrated and we want answers! but at this point i just want to see my son, i need to see him, hold him, kiss him and tell him how much i love him but i'm not being allowed to grieve over my loss because he is still being held as 'evidence'."

His father, Charles Austin, said he still has unanswered questions, like why his son would be let out of jail so many times. Charles Austin said his son had a drug problem and a lengthy criminal history.

"The last three charges he had, he should not have been back out on the street yet," Charles Austin said. "I'm not passing the blame onto anybody, but it just needs to make sense."

An official from the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council -- the agency that trains all 120 Commonwealth's Attorneys offices across Virginia -- said that no two cases are the same.

In certain violent crimes, a suspect will not be granted bond, but for the most part that's up to a judge. A suspect can also be released from jail for pretrial services, which is similar to probation. Charges could be dropped altogether if witnesses don't show up or there's a problem with evidence.

The City of Roanoke's Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, John McNeil Jr., provided 10 News with information about how the judicial system is run, adding: 

"We do not keep statistics on what percentage of offenses get prosecuted (or not).  Every investigation is unique and has to be judged individually as to whether there is sufficient evidence to initiate a prosecution.

 

"... each case is unique and there is no set standard as to why someone would remain in jail or be released from jail on a criminal prosecution.

 

"There are many, many factors that a Judge would consider when sentencing someone on a criminal charge, including the strength of the evidence as well as the criminal record of the accused.  While every case is unique, I have yet to see a case where someone has asked the Judge to keep him in jail as opposed to letting him go free."

 

Charles Austin said the system failed his son, so he would like to see change.

"My son wasn't a saint and my family tried to help him," Charles Austin said. "We tried to depend on the judicial system to help us get him steered in the right direction, but it didn't work. And you know, everybody has to remember: he has a family, and he has children, too, and it's not right."

The officer involved in the shooting, who has still not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave while state police investigate the shooting.


About the Author:

Lindsey Kennett

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!

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