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Colleagues testify on second day of Narrows officer’s involuntary manslaughter trial

Several law enforcement members took the stand explaining their respective department policies

Prosecutors called several Narrows police officers to testify in day 2 of the trial against one of their own.

GILES COUNTY, Va. – On day two of the trial against a New River Valley officer charged with involuntary manslaughter, several members of the law enforcement community took the stand.

Chad Stilley, an officer with the Narrows Police Department, was indicted for failure to yield right of way, reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.

The charges are in connection to a fatal motorcycle crash last summer in Narrows at the intersection of US-460 and 3rd Street. Michael Acord, 28, of Rich Creek was the motorcyclist involved in the crash and died at the scene, according to Virginia State Police.

Commonwealth Attorney Chris Rehak, of Radford, wanted the jury to see Stilley defied most policing policies and trainings on lethal force. To prove that, Rehak called on several current and former officers and police training instructors.

Pearisburg Police Officer Paul Vincent led the chase with Acord, which began at 9:59 p.m. His testimony continued Tuesday.

Through his testimony, the jury learned Vincent was unable to get a read on Acord’s motorcycle license plate and that he didn’t have his identification. Additionally, Rehak had Vincent point out during the pursuit they did not pass through any stop signs or traffic lights.

It was later unveiled Acord had no license to operate the motorcycle.

“Do you have any reason to believe that night as you were chasing Michael that he was armed?” questioned Rehak.

“No,” answered Vincent.

Rehak continued his questioning by asking, “That he was a dangerous fleeing felon as in he robbed a bank or so?”

“I didn’t have any knowledge of that, no,” admitted Vincent.

“Just so we are clear on this,” said Rehak to Vincent, “Michael had done none of those things that you are aware of?”

Vincent answered shortly, “Correct!”

“Were you told that a roadblock was being set up in front of you,” questioned Rehak.

“I was not told,” stated Vincent.

Testimony showed Stilley radioed Vincent asking if he needed help, but Vincent said he told Stilley there wasn’t anything he thought he could do.

After the crash, dashcam video shows Vincent exiting his patrol car and checking Acord’s pulse while contacting dispatch for medical assistance. Vincent testified he never saw Stilley check on Acord.

The defense wanted the jury to see Stilley was simply protecting innocent cars Acord put in danger by leading police on the chase.

Chris Tuck, Stilley’s attorney, suggested Acord’s high speeds through much slower zones (100+mph in a ~40mph zone) and his “zig-zag” driving posed a great danger to other cars on the roadway.

“Is it fair to say that you drill into them over-and-over-and-over again to save the innocent or protect the innocent?” questioned Tuck.

“Yessir,” answered Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy Training Coordinator James Booth.

Booth was among a handful of law enforcement officers the prosecution called to the stand Tuesday.

Stilley attended Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy in 2018 prior to his service in Narrows, according to testimony.

The Commonwealth had Booth read questions from their exit exam to prove Stilley defied their training.

Tuck countered by saying every circumstance or experience an officer may face cannot be taught in the academy. He said in those moments officers are reminded of their training which tells them to protect the innocent first. Booth agreed.

Virginia State Police Training Director Jefferey Hanna testified on how his agency’s training teaches roadblocks.

Former Radford Police Officer R. Scott Schwarzer, Giles County Sheriff Morgan Millirons, and Pearisburg police Chief Jack Martin took the stand explaining their respective department policies. The two attorneys took the same approach with them they did the training instructors.

Several witnesses also testified.

The judge estimates the trial will last five days.

If convicted, Officer Chad Stilley faces up to 11 years behind bars.


About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.