ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney announced his findings Wednesday after a months-long investigation into a officer-involved shooting in October 2019.
On October 16, Chase Austin was shot and killed by Roanoke Officer Martinez after Virginia State Police said Austin became confrontational and pointed a semi-automatic pistol at Martinez.
Once Martinez arrived at the Krispy Kreme, he and Austin got into a stuggle in the doorway when Austin pulled out a gun and pointed it at Martinez, according to Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell.
Austin then ran out of the store and Martinez pursued him.
Once outside the store, Martinez for Austin to stop and show his hands, but he continued to run.
As the chase entered the K&W parking lot, Martinez fired three shots at Austin, but did not hit him.
After Austin ran through a car wash being built, Martinez fired again, causing Austin to fall.
While on the ground, Austin rolled to face Martinez resulting in a final shot being fired.
EMS personnel took Austin to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he was taken into surgery and pronounced dead at 3:10 p.m.
After reviewing the evidence in the case, here is the conclusion Caldwell came to:
Based upon the facts available to me at this time, I am of the opinion that Mr. Austin’s actions placed Officer Martinez in a position where he reasonably believed that he and others were in immediate, imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Whatever his motivation, Mr. Austin introduced the element of deadly force into what was otherwise a relatively benign situation. By pulling a gun on Officer Martinez and then fleeing while armed towards a populated area in broad daylight, Mr. Austin effectively expanded the scope of the threat to the public at large. Officer Martinez has an obligation to protect the general public from threats such as the one presented by Mr. Austin. Therefore, I am of the opinion that, under the law of Virginia, Officer Martinez was legally justified in the use of deadly force to protect his own life as well as the lives of others in this situation. Thus, criminal charges are not appropriate under these circumstances, and none will be pursued.Donald S. Caldwell - Roanoke City Commonwealth's Attorney
During the investigation, investigators with the Virginia State Police interviewed some 23 witnesses who had some connection to this event including Officer Martinez.
Autopsy results showed that Austin’s blood had a level of meth at 0.52 per mg/L, more than five times the presumptive level of 0.10 per mg/L.
That level of meth intoxication would make some act more erratically in an agitated manner and his emotions would be more exaggerated, according to Caldwell.
Below is the full new release from Caldwell: