Man charged with shooting Martinsville police officer identified, released from hospital

The 37-year-old faces four charges, including attempted capital murder

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The Martinsville man who authorities say shot a Martinsville police officer on New Year’s Day is out of the hospital and in police custody, according to Virginia State Police.

Thomas Joe Braxton III, 37, was arrested Saturday on the following charges: one count of attempted capital murder, one count use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of felony eluding.

Braxton’s charges are related to the New Year’s Day shooting of Martinsville police officer Michael Panos, who was shot once in the left arm, according to Martinsville city officials.

Officials say Panos was treated and released at Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina and continues to recover. Panos has been with the Martinsville Police Department for two years.

Officer Jason Griffith was also involved in the incident. Officials did not release the extent of his involvement. He has been with the department for three years.

Both Panos and Griffith have been assigned to “administrative duties” while the investigation continues, according to Martinsville city officials.

Around 9:40 p.m. on Jan. 1, an officer attempted to pull Braxton over; however, he refused, drove away and the officer pursued him, according to the Martinsville Police Department.

Then as the chase continued, police said Braxton jumped out of his moving pickup truck, which continued to roll down an embankment, cross over Joseph Martin Highway and crash into an embankment.

Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady said that once police found Braxton, the pursuit ended in gunfire in front of the Glen Ridge Apartments.

Panos and Braxton were hit in the exchange. The Braxton’s firearm was recovered at the scene, according to state police.

He is being held without bond at the Henry County Jail.

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These investigation remains ongoing and once completed, state police said the findings will be turned over to the Henry County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for review.

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