Alexandria’s Human Rights Commission will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 to hear and discuss Police Chief Earl Cook’s findings in an internal investigation into the police-involved shooting of Taft Sellers.
Thursday’s meeting will be held at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St.).
Last week, Cook announced the department’s investigation concluded that the use of lethal force was “reasonable and in compliance with Department policy.”
APD policy allows the use of lethal force when, “an employee reasonably believes that the action is in the defense of human life, including the employee’s own life, or in the defense of any person in imminent danger of serious physical injury.”
The seven officers involved in the incident had been placed on administrative duty until the completion of the internal investigation. They returned to regular duty last week.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel cleared the officers of criminal charges in July, releasing a 30-page report detailing the circumstances that led to Sellers' death.
A T.C. Williams graduate and former Marine, Sellers pointed a firearm at police during a Feb. 18 encounter at his grandmother’s apartment complex in the 3400 block of Duke Street.
Sellers’ sister notified police that he had a gun after the two got into an argument. Sellers did not threaten to use it. The 30-year-old then encountered a police officer in a stairwell at the complex. As other officers arrived, Sellers hid behind a wall.
Officers repeatedly asked Sellers to show his hands, according to the report, but he refused.
He then pointed his weapon at the officers.
“The gun was fully loaded but Sellers did not fire it; and he was shot by officers who feared Sellers was going to shoot at them,” reads Sengel’s report. “Under these circumstances, the law clearly supports the conclusion that the officers were entitled to use deadly force in response and that they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges against the officers are not appropriate.”
The officers on the scene fired 37 shots at Sellers using handguns, a shotgun and a rifle. Sellers was hit five times in the abdomen and head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sengel’s report indicates Sellers had sent an email to friends and family the day of the shooting implying suicide. Sengel said the investigation showed nothing in regards to post traumatic stress disorder, but that Sellers had been treated for depression. Sellers was prescribed phenytoin, an antiepileptic drug, according to the report.
The city’s Human Rights Commission reviews certain police department cases several times a year.
The commission recently assisted Mayor Bill Euille and the Alexandria branch of the NAACP host a community discussion concerning George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin and race relations in the city.