'Tragedy': Families question police shooting of Crozet man
Gregory Allen Rosson, 21, lay dead in a yard along U.S. 250 on Afton Mountain for about nine hours after he was shot early June 8 by Albemarle police, according to a witness. "They didn't have to kill that man," says the resident, in whose front yard the shooting took place.
Albemarle police responded to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance at 2:16am Saturday, June 8, according to a release from Virginia State Police, which is investigating the incident, the second county police shooting in two weeks.
Police say an officer arrived on scene and saw a female being assaulted outside the residence. Rosson ran towards the officer, who fired his weapon, according to the release, which does not mention whether Rosson was armed. At 2:32am, dispatch records show emergency responders received reports of a gunshot wound.
U.S. 250 in western Albemarle, also known as Rockfish Gap Turnpike, was closed from Route 151 to the top of Afton Mountain until noon. The officer who killed Rosson is on administrative leave, and that's about all the information police have released on the incident.
Family and friends say Rosson recently had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder following another encounter with police December 9 at the Supertest gas station on Rockfish Gap Turnpike, in which he was charged with assaulting law enforcement officers.
"He was murdered by Albemarle County Police," says the father of the woman who allegedly was involved in an altercation with Rosson when the 911 call was made. He spoke to the Hook on the condition that he and his daughter not be identified.
The father says he awoke to the sound of gunfire right outside the bedroom of his mobile home on Rockfish Gap Turnpike. "It sounded like pop, pop, pop," he says.
"All I saw was that cop standing over him with a flashlight," says the father. "Greg was already dead. They shot him in the chest."
He says police moved Rosson from near the road into the yard and attempted CPR. And then for hours, Rosson remained on the ground, he says.
"It started to rain and [investigators] got in their vehicles, says the father. "He's laying out here uncovered. Not only did he get degraded in life, he got degraded in death, too."
The resident at the scene says he was angry about what happened with his daughter, but adds, "He didn't deserve to be killed. They knew he had a mental problem."
The father says he doesn't know who called 911, and he doesn't understand why police didn't wound Rosson or use a stun gun. "To me, it's lethal force," he says. "It's a tragedy."
Rosson was in the class of 2009 at Western Albemarle High School. He worked at a landscaping company, says his sister, Lauren Moore.
"He liked to hunt, he liked to fish, he liked mud bogs," she says. "He liked to hang out and have a good time."
She describes a "loving" younger brother who was her best friend and who was adored by her five-year-old daughter.
But Rosson also had experienced difficulties in his short life: He didn't speak until he was five, says his sister, and his father died when he was about 15.
She believes his problems began in earnest after a serious car wreck in December 2009. Rosson was in the hospital for weeks after he drove a Chevy Malibu into the Crozet Library, an incident in which he was charged with reckless driving.
Three years later on December 9, he was charged with four counts of assaulting an officer, one of trying to disarm an officer with a stun gun, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, and drunk in public. All of those charges had been dismissed except for one assault and the stun gun charge, and Rosson had a June 11 court date, according to court records.
"He was diagnosed with split personality in jail," says Moore. "Greg had a mental illness. He didn't even remember what happened when he woke up in jail."
Her brother had since seen therapists and was taking medication, she says, but something happened when he got angry. "When he gets mad, his alter [personality] kicks in," says Moore. "He had issues, but he's not a bad person."
She doesn't know what happened that night on Afton Mountain, but is convinced of one thing. "They didn't have to kill him," she says. "He didn't have to die."
Two days after the fatal shooting, state police released Rosson's name, but not the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot.
"We ask that you give us time to conduct these investigations," said a June 8 Albemarle police release. "It is imperative we focus on the facts and do not release any information that would disrupt the integrity of these investigations." At press time, neither Albemarle police nor Virginia State Police had responded to a Hook request for additional information.
Two days before his death, Rosson posted on his Facebook page, "I'm going to live my life to the fullest." Meanwhile, Moore mourns her brother, and her family is unable to plan for his funeral. "They haven't released his body yet," she says.
Correction June 11: Greg Rosson's diagnosis was misidentified in the original story.