Richmond’s interim police chief involved in deadly officer-involved shooting in 2002

Updated: Jun. 19, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - There’s been a whirlwind of changes over the past few days for the leadership within Richmond’s Police Department.

Newly appointed interim Chief William “Jody” Blackwell addressed the city for the first time Thursday, and during that press conference, Blackwell was asked about a shooting he was involved in nearly 18 years ago.

Blackwell has spent over two decades with the Richmond Police Department. His career has been filled with awards and recognition from colleagues.

“I‘m proud to work alongside the men and women of the Richmond Police Department,” Blackwell said.

It’s a position Blackwell said he didn’t expect or ask for but Mayor Levar Stoney officially appointed the two-decade veteran to head the Richmond Police Department.

It was during Thursday’s press conference where Blackwell was asked about his involvement in an officer-involved shooting nearly two decades ago.

”It’s a completely different situation. As I said before, I’m not going to go into any details with it because it’s not what we are here for today,” Blackwell said in response.

In July 2002, Blackwell, who was an officer at the time, faced charges of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Jeramy Gilliam in the Byrd Park neighborhood.

According to an NBC12 report at the time, Blackwell thought Gilliam could be a suspect in a nearby robbery and asked to see ID. Blackwell told investigators it happened after Gilliam pointed a pistol at him.

A Richmond Grand Jury heard evidence but did not return an indictment against Blackwell in 2002.

“I’m aware of Chief Blackwell’s record and I support the chief,” said Mayor Stoney after he was asked about Blackwell’s record.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation released a statement, saying in part:

“Major Blackwell has served the Richmond Police Department and the community with dedication and professionalism for many years, as did Chief Smith. We support Chief Blackwell in this difficult position, and know that he will serve with humility and integrity.”

Blackwell later went on to be Commander of Fourth Precinct where he won Precinct of the Year for crime reduction three years in a row.

Many officers and police organizations said they respect Blackwell’s long career in the city and point out he has the respect of those under his leadership.

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