‘It was productive’: Virginia NAACP discusses public safety concerns with Gov. Northam and other state leaders

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia NAACP met virtually Monday with the state’s top officials to discuss public safety across the Commonwealth following a recent deputy-involved shooting in Spotsylvania County.

The private online discussion took place between Virginia NAACP President Robert Barnette, Jr., Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Gary Settle, Virginia’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Dr. Janice Underwood, and Governor Ralph Northam.

“We can’t do policing like we’ve done it for the past 25 years,” Barnette said. “So that’s what we’re committed to discussing.”

While specific details from the roughly hour and a half long conversation were not released, Barnette said it was a productive discussion.

However, a source familiar with the conversation said several of the recent officer-involved shootings were discussed.

“The shootings that we’ve had not only in Virginia but across this country are unacceptable; they’re very concerning,” Northam said ahead of the meeting on Monday. “They merit a thorough investigation.”

One investigation underway in Virginia is the shooting of a Spotsylvania County man by a sheriff’s deputy.

On April 21, Isaiah Brown, was shot by a Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy and left with non-life-threatening injuries, according to state police.

The family told NBC Washington that Brown has 10 bullet wounds and has injuries to the face, neck, chest and pelvic area.

State police said Brown was unarmed when the shooting occurred.

“Trust of our local law enforcement relies on transparency and accountability,” said Mozett Petway, president of the Spotsylvania Branch NAACP. “We are grateful for the preexisting relationships with our local law enforcement officials that helped expedite this vital request. The Spotsylvania Branch NAACP will continue working with the family and investigating this incident.”

The 911 call and deputy body camera footage was released Friday after the Spotsylvania branch of the NAACP reached out to the sheriff’s office.

Virginia State Police are now handling that investigation.

Superintendent Col. Gary Settle was also part of Monday’s discussion.

“I was very impressed with his willingness to continue with ongoing meetings,” Barnette said. “He was very open and committed to the process as well.”

Meanwhile, a source said law enforcement practices were also discussed.

Earlier this month the group called for action after a lawsuit was filed against two Windsor Police officers for their conduct during a traffic stop with U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario.

One of those officers has since been fired.

“We need to talk about how policing is done,” Barnette said. “We began that path today and we are committed to additional meetings leading to substantial changes to law enforcement.”

The Virginia NAACP plans to have more discussions in the future with state leaders.

A source also said the group discussed executive actions and what measures the governor might be able to take.

While Northam’s term ends this year, Barnette said the group will continue these conversations with the future Governor of Virginia.

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