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Alexandria Prosecutor Clears Officers In February Shooting

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Justin McGregor: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skippytpe/3366481352/

Alexandria's chief prosecutor says police officers were entitled to use deadly force in a February shooting.

Back in February, a former Marine named Taft Sellers pointed a loaded firearm at police officers during a standoff in the West End of the city. Sellers died, and Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Sengel launched a criminal investigation to determine whether his office should file charges. Now Sengel has finished the investigation, and determined the officers acted in self defense.

"It resulted in Mr. Sellers' death, which is of course a tragedy for his family and friends," Sengel says. "But it's my conclusion that the officers were justified in their response. So no criminal charges will be filed."

In a 30-page report, Sengel outlines what happened that day and how the investigation was conducted. According to his investigation, officers made repeated efforts to talk him down without success. Instead, he pointed a weapon at police. Seven police officers fired 36 rounds hitting Sellers seven times. Sengel rejects the idea that officers used excessive force.

"They are looking at what they see, and what they are reacting to, and it's really not possible for them to sort of have a global picture and focus in terms of what's going on," Sengel says.

Sengel released his report voluntarily because he felt the community needs to know why officers take action when lethal force is used, a course of action he has taken in at least three other officer-involved shootings.

Fairfax County refuses to release these kinds of documents — even when they are requested under a Freedom of Information Act.

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