Who shot Greg Rosson? ID of police officer still secret
August 16 was Gregory Rosson's 22nd birthday. His family brought flowers, his two dogs, and sang "Happy Birthday" to him— at Prize Hill Cemetery in Boonesville, where he was buried June 14. They also planned a bonfire because that's what he'd said he wanted before he died.
More than two months since Rosson was shot by an Albemarle police officer, questions remain for his family about the June 8 slaying, including the identity of the officer who killed him, and what the circumstances were that required lethal force. They also cite inconsistencies in the Virginia State Police press release issued following Rosson's death and information in the search warrant issued just hours after the shooting.
According to the state police press release, a 911 call was placed at 2:16am June 8 about a domestic disturbance in the 9000-block of Rockfish Gap Turnpike on Afton Mountain. The Albemarle police officer who arrived on the scene saw a female being assaulted. "The suspect ran towards the officer who fired his weapon," said the release.
Rosson's sister, Lauren Moore, finds it strange that the search warrants written within hours of the shooting by Virginia State Police Special Agent B.D. Tuggle provide a different scenario: "An Albemarle County Police Officer responded to a domestic and upon arrival observed a male assaulting a female, the officer gave the male commands to stop but he did not stop and the officer subsequently shot the male to stop the threat."
Moore notes that the warrant doesn't say anything about Rosson running toward the officer. "Why wasn't that written in the officer's statement?" she asks.
The same warrant to search a tan single-wide trailer with an addition, the curtilage, and all vehicles at 9049 Rockfish Gap Turnpike lists an inventory of what was recovered: a magazine, four cartridge cases, and a beer can. Police also retrieved a wallet, phone charger and iPhone belonging to Rosson.
It was Rosson's mother who had placed the 911 call, fearing for the safety of her son and his former girlfriend. "I told them Greg had a mental condition, and he had an alter personality," says Denise Rosson. "And when it was out, he was mean."
Denise Rosson says she'd been on the phone with the woman and could hear her say, "Greg, stop it," and the phone would go dead. She called back and talked to her son. "He said he was going to choke her out," she says. That's when she called 911. "I told them his alter was out. I could tell that was his alter."
Rosson had been in trouble with police before, and following a brawl with officers at a Greenwood gas station in December, he'd been diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder. He was scheduled to be in court June 11 for assaulting an officer and disarming an officer of a stun gun.
In 2009, Rosson also had an accident in which he drove a Chevy Malibu into the Crozet Library. He was hospitalized for weeks, and charged with reckless driving. That's why his mother doubts the police account that he was running toward an officer before he was shot. "He couldn't run after the wreck," she says. "Some days he couldn't walk."
Albemarle police have steadfastly refused to identify the officer who killed Rosson, citing the ongoing investigation by the Virginia State Police, which is now complete, Colonel Steve Sellers told the Hook a few weeks ago. Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford, who will determine whether criminal charges will be filed, is reviewing the findings. At press time, she had not returned a phone call from the Hook.
"After she reviews it, more information will be released regarding the shooting," says Albemarle police spokesperson Carter Johnson.
The deadly force in the Afton Mountain incident was the fourth shooting by an area police officer in six months: On December 26, an Albemarle police officer fired and missed during a stand-off on Rio Mills Road that ended in a murder-suicide. During a fray at the Elks Lodge on Second Street NW March 16, a Charlottesville police officer shot and wounded a man who was holding a gun. Another Charlottesville man was wounded May 26 at his Birdwood Court residence when two Albemarle police officers came to investigate a felony hit-and-run.
In the two city shootings, Charlottesville Police identified the officers who discharged their weapons within days of the incidents, and in both cases, the shootings were found justifiable.
Greg Rosson's family is having a hard time understanding why it's been 10 weeks since his death and they still don't know the name of the public servant who killed him.
"It's still a nightmare because they're not telling us anything," says Moore. "How would they feel if this happened to their family member?"
And his mother questions her decision to call 911 that night. "These days you don't know if you're going to call the cops for help and someone's going to end up dead," she says. "I'll never call the cops for help again."