Fatal officer-involved shooting in Lynchburg ruled justifiable

Authorities say a Lynchburg police officer shot the suspect after a police chase on Feb. 2


On Wednesday, Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison ruled that the use of deadly force in an officer-involved shooting was “justifiable.”

Lynchburg Police Officer John Person shot and killed Ry’Heam Brown on February 2. The entire incident was captured on body and dash camera video.

That footage was shown during a news conference on Wednesday.

Harrison announced her report findings that Officer Person acted out of self defense and the use of deadly force was not excessive.

“No criminal charges will be issued and I find this to be a justifiable use of self-defense,” said Harrison.

During the conference, Harrison reviewed the facts of the case.

On the night of February 2 just before 9:30 p.m., Lynchburg Police got a call about a possible shooting.

Officer Person was patrolling the area, when he spotted the suspect’s car. He recognized that the car belonged to Brown.

Harrison said that Officer Person knew Brown from an attempted traffic stop of the same vehicle three weeks prior to February 2, 2023. During that prior stop that occurred on January 11, 2023, Brown ran from the vehicle and he was not located. His car was searched during the January traffic stop and bullets were found in the vehicle. In addition to this, the officer knew that Brown was known to carry firearms, was affiliated with a criminal street gang, and that Brown recently got out of prison after serving time for a felony conviction of malicious wounding.

“Ry’Heam Brown had a red bandana hanging out of his right rear pants pocket,” said Harrison. “It is a way to show that you’re representing your gang.”

Harrison said that Person knew that Brown’s driver’s license was revoked, and that as a convicted felon, he was not permitted to have a firearm. Harrison added that the white sedan Brown drove was a Chevy Malibu with altered North Carolina temporary tags, in violation of Virginia law.

“The officer had probable cause to stop this vehicle,” said Harrison.

In the dashcam video, you can see Person turn on the police car’s lights and sirens. He tried to pull Brown over, but Brown sped away before eventually getting out of the car and running.

“He’s running. Ry’Heam, stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!” Person can be heard saying on dashcam video.

In the body camera footage, you can see Person chase after Brown. At one point, Brown fell and that’s when Person noticed that Brown had a gun.

10 News is choosing not to show the moment of the shooting and the aftermath due to its graphic nature. But we will play the audio recording of the shooting.

When Brown got up and started to turn around, Officer Person shot brown six times, killing him.

During the news conference, Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema said there’s been an uptick in officer-involved shootings: three just since December. He added that in his first 20 years at the department, there were only three officer-involved shootings.

Zuidema said that crime is not just a police issue.

“A violence problem in our community is not just a police problem. It’s not just a commonwealth’s attorney problem. This is a community problem that needs to be addressed and solved by our community, collectively,” said Zuidema.

Chief Zuidema tells 10 News that Person has been with the department for four years and has never discharged his weapon before the February 2 incident.

There is still an ongoing investigation internally within the Lynchburg Police Department. Until that wraps up, Person will be on restricted duty.


A man is dead following an officer-involved shooting in Lynchburg Thursday night, says the department in a news release posted to its Facebook page.

The department says the incident started in the 700 block of Grady Street, where multiple gunshots were reported.

The department then says an officer tried to pull over a car they believed was involved but that the car refused to stop.

According to the release, the driver of the car then ran away in the area of Pierce Street and 14th Street.

Authorities say an officer followed the suspect into an alleyway when the suspect pulled out a gun.

The officer responded and shot the suspect, identified by the department as 25-year-old Ryheam Damon Brown.

Police say Brown later died at the hospital.

Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema says Virginia State Police is investigating the incident, and the involved officer is on non-enforcement, limited-duty status until the investigation is complete, as is protocol in every officer-involved shooting.

Virginia State Police released a statement on the incident, saying:

“At the request of the Lynchburg Police Chief, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is investigating the officer-involved shooting involving Lynchburg Police that occurred Feb. 2, 2023. Once the investigation is completed, state police will turn over the investigative findings to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for final review and adjudication.”

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About the Authors:

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.