Wheelchair video to be released
The dash-cam video showing an Albemarle Police cruiser striking wheelchair pedestrian Gerry Mitchell is set to be released at 4pm today, according to Albemarle County Police spokesperson Lt. John Teixeira.
According to Charlottesville officials, the video will show that Gerry Mitchell failed to heed a pedestrian signal showing a red hand– a universal symbol for "don't walk"– when he entered the West Main Street crosswalk near the Main Street Market on the morning of November 5. Mitchell proceded into the intersection because the traffic signal in front of him showed green.
As detailed in a Hook cover story, Albemarle County Police Officer Greg C. Davis, turning left from Fourth Street onto West Main, hit the rear of Mitchell's wheelchair, throwing him into the street. The police outlined their version of events in a controversial three-page memo penned on December 12 by Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo and sent to City Council.
On January 3, charges against Mitchell were officially dropped, but not because the police admitted wrongdoing. Instead, according to City Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman, the charges were dropped for a technicl reason: the law refers only to pedestrian signals using the actual words "walk" and "don't walk," not to signals using symbols.
The video also purportedly shows Officer Davis and a witness lifting Mitchell back into his chair, an act Mitchell has said resulted in serious injury to one of his shoulders. Mitchell, who has suffered from HIV/AIDS for 26 years, was treated in the UVA Hospital emergency room the day of the accident, then readmitted the following day in renal failure, something he believes was triggered by the blow to his back. He was stabilized and released several days later, but reentered the hospital on New Year's Day and remains hospitalized in severe pain with swelling in his joints, according to his younger brother, Corky Mitchell. This most recent health setback caused Mitchell to miss his First Friday opening at the Mudhouse on the Downtown Mall, where his paintings will hang through the month of January.