Murder charge over shooting of alleged thief

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Was it self defense or murder? A shooting in Church Hill Wednesday has a lot of people asking that question.

The shooting on Leigh Street is complicated. Witnesses give conflicting accounts and police have released very few details.

Witnesses say 25 year old Eric Green Driver confronted a man in a mask breaking into his girlfriend's Honda. Police say Driver shot and killed that alleged thief, 24 year old Jamal Holman.

Some witnesses say Holman was shot while running away. Others say he was shot six times. Police will not say if Holman had a gun. Justin Burdick lives next door and calls the shooting self defense.

"The guy turned around with a gun and my neighbor unloaded on him. That was it. It was kind of self defense issue I think," said Burdick.

But Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring does not agree. His office has charged Driver with second degree murder.

"In Virginia you can not use lethal force to protect property. You can resort to lethal force to repel a serious threat of bodily injury or death to oneself or a person," said Herring.

Herring makes it clear, charges would not be filed if he thought driver was fearful for his life or protecting another person.

"We went through this ad nauseam with the Baskin Robbins incident," he said.

In that case, two years ago a man shot and killed an armed robber at the Baskin Robbins on Forest Hill. The ice cream clerk actually chased the robber into a neighborhood firing nearly a dozen shots. A grand jury decided that shooting was justified.

Herring says it appears the Church Hill shooting is very different.

"How do distinguish between someone trying to steal your car vs. your air conditioner? Are you allowed to pull out your nine millimeter and shoot somebody stealing an air conditioner or a bicycle, and the answer clearly is no," said Herring.

Bottom line, Herring says when someone's stealing your property call police. Driver will be in court next week to see if he can get out of jail on bond. If convicted he faces between five and forty years in prison.

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