Roanoke police chief under fire again for emotional comments on downtown shooting

NAACP president, council member voice concerns

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Fallout continues over the Roanoke police chief's response to a downtown shooting.

Chief Tim Jones was very emotional reacting to the shooting that sent a man to the hospital just over a week ago.

“Most of the people in downtown are there just to witness the show. This isn't some kind of rap video," Jones said.

A lot of people have been defending the chief's comments, commending him for having a backbone, but last week's news conference came under fire again Monday at a City Council meeting.

Roanoke NAACP president Brenda Hale stopped short of calling for Jones to resign, as some have, but said enough is enough.

She said his comparing the shooting to a rap video is racist and particularly concerning after his controversial comments a couple months ago, talking about rape victims that many criticized as victim blaming.

"I do believe something must change. I don't know what it all takes to make this change but something has to change. Two incidents is just too much. We do not want a third and we need a police chief that cares about each and every citizen in this community," Hale said.

Another concern raised by council member Bill Bestpitch was Jones' refusal to add any more cops downtown.

Last week, he said 10 officers working downtown were on scene in seconds and additional cops wouldn't have made a difference.

Downtown bars disagree and so does Bestpitch, labeling it an unacceptable response from a city leader.

"If 10 police officers are in the city market area, and incidents like this continue to happen, I have to wonder how are they being deployed? How are they being positioned? Are they in the right places at the right time doing the right thing in the right way for the right reasons? I don't know but I think our city administration needs to know," Bestpitch said.

Bestpitch said we may need to reevaluate where officers are located, whether they're in uniform or plain clothes, among other issues.

Copyright 2019 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.