Big reveal: Judge demands cop's tale in wheelchair case

The cop-hitting-the-wheelchair case moved a step closer to trial on thte morning of Wednesday, August 31 as a judge in Charlottesville Circuit Court ordered Albemarle County to produce a statement made by County Police Officer Gregory C. Davis that could shed light on his texting activities immediately before the 2007 crosswalk accident in which he struck Gerry Mitchell in his wheelchair.

"This is about the integrity of the investigative process," argued assistant County attorney Andy Herrick seeking to quash a subpoena for the record, claiming that the release of such a confidential document could have a "chilling effect" on future internal investigations and meant for Officer Davis a "major invasion of privacy."

Furthermore, Herrick noted, Mitchell's attorneys entered into an agreement with the County early on in the case permanently withdrawing their subpoena for the entire investigative file in exchange for the statement Davis made at the scene of the accident.

That agreement, insisted Mitchell attorney Richard Armstrong, should be nullified since "critical" information about Davis' texting and the statement in the internal file wasn't available.

"We were kept in the dark and made an agreement in the dark," said Armstrong, telling visiting Judge Gaylord L. Finch (hearing the case due to the potential for conflict with a local judge) that he learned about Davis' texting prior to hitting Mitchell and that another statement from Davis existed in the internal police file. The statement's existence was revealed in an August 3 deposition by County Police Sgt. Timothy Seitz.

In previous interrogatories, Armstrong pointed out, Officer Davis was "misleading," revealing only that he had once been disciplined for "excessive texting" while omitting the fact that the offending texting had actually occurred on the very day and in the moments before the broad-daylight accident.

In court, Armstrong explained the questions he hoped the statement might answer: Was Davis sending or receiving a text as he entered the intersection, and if so, did he ever admit it? If he did, to whom?

For instance, if Davis told City Officer Steve Grissom at the scene of the accident about the texting and Grissom then withheld the information from the report, Armstrong suggests, it could amount to the conspiracy alleged in Mitchell's $850,000 suit.

On the other hand, Armstrong told the court, if Davis didn't tell Grissom about his texting in the immediate aftermath of the accident, the fact that he then accompanied Grissom to Mitchell's bedside in the UVA Emergency Room to issue what he might have known was an unfair ticket could show malice by Davis, another assertion in the suit.

"The information is directly relevent to your claims," mused the Fairfax-based Judge Finch, who dismissed two defense motions to dismiss the case and ordered the County to release Davis' statement. (The action won't necessarily put the statement in front of the public, the media, or, perhaps, even Mitchell himself, however, as Judge Fitch ordered the statement placed under a protective order for "counsel eyes only.")

Following the hearing, plaintiff's attorney Armstrong revealed that he and fellow attorney Deborah Wyatt recently received from wireless provider nTelos the records of Davis' texting, which Armstrong says "show a pattern of text messages" leading up to the incident, and Wyatt expressed hope that the release of the statement will be "interesting."

Lawyers for Grissom and Davis declined comment. The trial is scheduled for September 27 and 28.


I don't understand why the county attorney thinks the release of such a confidential document could have a chilling effect on future internal investigations and is a major invasion of privacy for Davis. If the record indicates he was texting to his wife or girlfriend, so what? If was texting to his sergeant or lieutenant, that's even better because it would show that he was at leasst working while he wasn't watching where he was going.

Now that the judge has ruled, I wonder if the document(s) will be accidentally destroyed or lost. I am sure Debbie Wyatt is probably expecting this. It won't be the first time documents under subpoena or court order have been destroyed or lost. Ohh, wait a minute, the cell provider holds the records! Albemarle County most likely won't be able to accidentally destroy them or lose them. :)

Gasbag, exactly!

Chilling effect? Who cares. Texting is against the law.

$850,000! Damn thats a lot of crap from the dollar menu.

If there was a conspiracy to cover this up heads should roll.

Even a 10 year old knows the right thing to do is to knock on the door and apoligize for hitting his baseball through a neighbors window.

Lost Cause, texting while driving was not yet a law when this incident took place. But there are other traffic laws that would cover it. The texting law only came to be because you have to draw a picture for young people to understand what you're saying nowadays.

Bill, I agree with what you say. But there is nobody in this area willing to investigate corruption or conspiracy under any circumstance unless it benefits a police chief or sheriff. When my captain suggested I contact the FBI about a coverup and conspiracy, the FBI contacted the county police captain, a former FBI agent that worked with them. Having been tipped off, not only was the coverup and conspiracy never investigated, but the county police took extraordinary measures to make sure the FBI couldn't proceed. It's my opinion that this was with the FBI's blessing. Scratching each other's back in other words. The only justice a person can get in this area is going before a judge or jury. And that's once again what local law enforcement is forcing Mr. Mitchell to do.

But let's assume you do somehow get an investigation rolling. The FBI came back and said the county police were involved in no wrongdoing when they shot and killed the Gray man a while back. A jury came along and disagreed, they gave the family $4,000,000+ in damages. As I said, no justice in this area until you go before a judge or jury.

Ice Dogg, if we need to take this discussion to that level, I see a lot more morbidly obese white people standing in line at McDonalds than I do black men in wheelchairs.

ยง 46.2-1078.1. Use of handheld personal communications devices in certain motor vehicles; exceptions; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to:

1. Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or

2. Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:

1. The operator of any emergency vehicle;

New law- don't agree with it, but it does say that emergency vehicle operators are exempt. Any officer worth his salt knows how stupid it is to text and drive, and I hope this story makes the roll call briefings all over the state.

Why would it make roll call? Cops don't care if they get sued or not. They think sitting back and laughing at the lawsuit, getting a free attorney, and getting overtime for every minute they spend in depositions, hearings, and an actual trial is great! They can make thousands and thousands in overtime alone even though they are the named defendant in the lawsuit(s). Only when a city or county finally refuses to pay damages assessed against a cop will they ever possibly begin to care.

"Chilling effect? Who cares. Texting is against the law."

Even now, it's not against the law for people operating emergency vehicles.

The law needs to state "emergency vehicles on a specific call or directly related task when stopping adversly affects the immediate issue at hand"

(or some other irionclad language)

Oh my, I see why cops don't want their text messages or e-mail released now. The discussions that go on are shameful!

Just goes to prove that those in law enforcement are no more special than the rest of us. They suffer from the same inadequacies and human frailties as the rest of us. These people are not heroes, there is no real reason to exalt their existence, they just do a job like the rest of us. But, when you do wear a badge and a gun in the line of duty we do expect that person to act in a responsible fashion in all aspects of their job. This whole fiasco is an insult to every law abiding citizen in this town, whether they know it or not. He should of been fired on the spot which is well within the rights of his boss. In fact his boss should be fired for allowing this soap opera to go on as long as it has.

Hey Mow and Bag. How about we look in your closet and see what kind of bones fall out. Nobodys perfect and in the end Karme catches up. In Bags case, and then some. Mow, you are a beginner in yhe shallow ens of the pool, kind of like your comments