COVER- Riddled: What happens after police shootings?
New York– where three police officers fired 50 bullets at three unarmed men early Saturday, November 25– isn't the only community wrestling with the issue of shootings by law enforcement officers. Just two weeks ago, an Albemarle jury awarded the relatives of 26-year-old Frederick Gray $4.5 million for the 1997 fatal shooting of Gray after he allegedly went berserk in a Rio Road apartment.
While the shootings happen in a matter of seconds, their repercussions last for years. Officers are put on administrative leave, multiple investigations are conducted, public support and criticism arises, lawsuits are filed by the victims and their families, and oftentimes the truth of what really happened in those violent moments remains a mystery.
In today's Hook, families of two men disabled by police bullets– including Elvis Shifflett, the subject of a seven-day manhunt in late October– speak out. And in his first interview since his June sentencing following the death of Albemarle's famous police dog, Ingo, Robert Lee Cooke talks about being shot and paralyzed by Ingo's master.
Cooke's tour: Paralyzed man and Gluba fire off
The last time Robert Lee Cooke walked– or ran– was October 24, 2004. Now he spends his days in isolation at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail as a convicted cop-killer. While the cop he allegedly killed was a dog named Ingo, in animal-loving Albemarle, Cooke is suffering the sting of public sentiment expressed in a sentence of 10 years in jail– and a lifetime in a wheelchair.
Cooke and his family say he's not the criminal that people seem to think, that he's a loving father and husband who made some mistakes when he was young, but who has been on the right track since. And Cooke, 33, and his supporters say there's no way would he kill a dog.
But an Albemarle jury didn't buy that version of events, and on June 13 found Cooke guilty of the malicious wounding of Ingo. Cooke is appealing that verdict and his conviction for possession of a firearm, and he may get a chance to be heard in his $2.35 million civil lawsuit against Officer Andy Gluba, who fired the shot that paralyzed him.
Early in the morning of October 24, 2004, Anthony Farish called 911 to report hearing footsteps in the vacant apartment upstairs from where he lives at 1074 Reservoir Road off Fontaine Avenue, according to court documents. At 1:29am, Officer Gluba responded to a suspected breaking and entering.
What's not in dispute: Cooke fled, and was pursued by Gluba and Ingo. Cooke fired a gun; Gluba fired his gun. In the aftermath, both Ingo and Cooke were wounded– Ingo so seriously that he had to be euthanized. Cooke was shot twice. One shot paralyzed him. The second, after he was down, hit him under the arm and lodged in his neck, where it remains.
Beyond those basic facts, the stories of those bullets' travels diverge widely. According to Gluba, Cooke "set up" on him twice rather than flee, and if not for Ingo, Gluba might have been shot as well.
Cooke maintains he had no idea who was pursuing him, and that he may not be the one who fatally wounded the German shepherd.
Robert Cooke's father left his mother when he was young. At age 14, he was convicted with his cousin, Kerry Von Reese Cook, of his first felony for a 1988 robbery at the By-Pass Market. The crime that involved the brutal beating of clerk Edna Spivey Butler, 70, with an ax handle, horrified the community.
Kerry Cook is also incarcerated in the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail for an altercation with Charlottesville police in which he, too, was shot– for resisting arrest in a domestic disturbance at Friendship Court in August 2004. He now wears a colostomy bag, and has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Charlottesville officers who arrested him.
And in this season of lawsuits against police officers, the family of Frederick Gray was awarded $4.5 million on November 17 for the 1997 shooting at Squire Hill Apartments in which he died. A jury subsequently found Albemarle police Sergeant Amos Chiarappa negligent in that incident.
Robert Cooke was tried as a juvenile in the By-Pass Market robbery, but he denies that he took part in the beating. "I never touched that lady," he protests. "She testified that I tried to stop him."
According to Cooke, he has been convicted of four felonies: one for that robbery and three more for drug possession when he was 18 and 19.
"If he'd had another way around in life, I don't think any of this would have happened," says his aunt, Ruth Washington. "He wouldn't have been out on the streets."
Before the night he was paralyzed, Cooke lived in Chesterfield where, he says, he made $16 an hour putting up duct work for a construction company, a job he'd had for four and a half years.
Two months before he was shot, he married his longtime girlfriend. They have a seven-year-old daughter, and on October 23, their son was born.
Enjoying fatherhood, however, is not part of Cooke's life. He's been in isolation the past seven months because, he says, he was told his wheelchair could be used as a weapon.
"I'm not allowed to have the medicine my doctor prescribed because it has a narcotic," says Cooke. "I'm in my room 24 hours a day, except for showers. No TV." Since he's been incarcerated, he says he's had no physical therapy, and he has no books because he can't get to the jail library. He does read newspapers and write letters.
And what he's read in the papers prompted him to speak out– particularly a November 6 Hook story, "Victim's family disgusted by lawsuit," that described the reaction of Edna Butler's granddaughter to his lawsuit.
What brought Cooke to Charlottesville that night two years ago? He mentions that he still has family in the area, but denies he was in the apartment on Reservoir Road. As for the gun, "It wasn't mine," he says. "It came from the apartment, but that doesn't mean I was in the apartment."
Cooke declines to say who owned the gun. But as a convicted felon, "I was running because I had the gun," he says.
In his version of what happened next, Cooke says he didn't know Gluba had a dog. "I just felt something," he recounts. "I turned around, and the dog was about a foot away. I just saw teeth coming at me. I fired down to scare him away. After I shot down, I kept running."
Ballistics showed that Cooke fired three shots from the gun. One of Gluba's shots hit his lower spine.
Cooke claims the second time Gluba shot him, "He walked up to me and said, ‘Why did you shoot my dog?' I was down. I was paralyzed. I couldn't do nothing."
"I was approaching him, trying to kick the gun away," says Gluba. "He made a deliberate lunge for it. I never got closer than 15 feet."
"The gun was four to five feet away from me, and I was already paralyzed," insists Cooke. And he's not convinced it was his bullet that fatally wounded Ingo.
"The lab report showed you couldn't tell exactly which gun was fired," says Cooke's attorney, Dana Slater. "The bullet fragments appeared more consistent with Mr. Cooke's than the officer's, but they still couldn't conclude exactly which gun they came from."
"Ballistics said they couldn't say 100 percent it came from his gun," says Gluba, "but they could say without a doubt it didn't come from my gun."
Because of the appeal, the court files have been sent to Richmond, according to the Albemarle Circuit Court clerk's office, and were unavailable to the Hook.
Also inconclusive: how the bullet entered Ingo, who suffered massive injuries. According to Cooke, a veterinarian testified the bullet hit Ingo in the buttocks. And if he fired at a charging dog, "How did my bullet go around 180 degrees?" he asks.
But another source familiar with the case says that scenario is speculation, and that there was so much damage to the dog that the veterinarian couldn't determine which direction the bullet came from.
From the jury box
A male juror spoke to the Hook on the condition his name not be used. His decision to convict Cooke was based on the timeline of how the events unfolded: "[Cooke] could have gotten away," he says. As for Cooke's contention he fired down at the ground, "That doesn't make sense from where they recovered the shells and where they found the dog."
The juror felt there was no question about who shot Ingo: "I think [Cooke] shot him."
Nor did the fact that Cooke was paralyzed influence his decision. "...He was paralyzed because he broke into a house and was running from the police," he says.
Alternate juror Tammy Baugher was "shocked" at the verdict. She believes Cooke was guilty of something, but not maliciously wounding Ingo. "I think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she says. "I don't think he intentionally meant to hurt the dog."
Baugher felt the prosecution's case "contradicted" itself. And about the second bullet Gluba fired into Cooke, she says, "I'm not sure I got a clear picture that Robert Cooke was able or capable of firing again."
One person set for jury duty at the time of the Cooke trial but not called for the case was Tory Sperry. She's Gluba's neighbor, and six years ago, he shot her dog.
Another dog shooting
Neighbors found Astro, a Lab mix, on their porch January 9, 2000, fatally wounded. They had followed a trail of blood from their house on Gilbert Station Road to behind Gluba's residence.
"He shot our dog in the head," says Sperry.
Gluba admitted shooting Astro, a dog Sperry says was a loving family pet. To bring charges, Sperry says she had to convince a special prosecutor to take on the man in blue.
"It's very hard for anyone to accuse a policeman," says Sperry. "I wanted to get something on the record."
On June 15, 2000, however, the charges were dropped. Gluba contended that any admission he might have made was inadmissable because he hadn't been read his Miranda rights. "That's very convenient," says a still-outraged Sperry. "I think it's an atrocious use of Miranda."
Gluba says that the incident occurred when a pack of five dogs came onto his property and threatened Ingo.
"You're talking about a dog I have to protect," he says. "My assumption was it was a pack of wild dogs. I had no intention to single out one, and I didn't want to hit one. My intention was to scare them off."
"I am an animal lover," says the officer, dismissing any comparison of the shooting of Ingo with that of Astro. "You're not really comparing apples to apples."
Robert Cooke's wife is home on maternity leave from her job as a bookkeeper. She didn't go to court with him except for the sentencing because she didn't want to be on TV, and she speaks to the Hook only on the condition her name isn't used.
"I'm well known in Goochland," she says. "I have a daughter.... I have to go out there every day and deal with people snickering at me behind my back."
She objects to the media coverage of the case. "Everything is trying to make him look like the bad one," she says, "but that's not my husband."
Nor, she says, is her husband a dog killer. Albemarle K-9 Ingo was buried with full police honors, and she believes the public reaction to his death played a role in Cooke's sentence– five years for the gun possession and seven years for shooting Ingo, with two suspended.
"Everybody was worried about the dog, the dog, the dog," she says. "I felt sorry he had to be put to sleep, but my husband is dealing with a lot, too."
She mentions the donations that came in to replace Ingo. His successor, Rico, cost $6,500, according to Gluba, and the Albemarle Ruritans just purchased a $730 ballistic vest for the three-year-old Belgian Malinois who accompanies him on patrol.
"Nobody made a donation to me," says Cooke's wife, "and I have to raise a daughter." And now a new son.
Robert Cooke doesn't call home because it costs $12 to call from the jail. He hasn't seen his new son because "I don't want the jail smell to be on him," he says.
Faced with the loss of her husband's income, his wife budgeted for maternity leave, but there are attorney's fees due and the upcoming appeals. Cooke has applied for Medicaid, which covers his medical expenses.
Isaih Anderson, 20, is a local musician of note who was invited to join Dave Matthews in the grand opening of the Music Resource Center. He's also Cooke's brother.
"He's a good man," says Anderson. "He's my big brother. He's the one I look up to. He made some bad decisions, but he had started to turn things around."
Anderson also objects to the publicity. "When 80 percent of Charlottesville saw Gluba crying on TV, they had convicted [Cooke] already," he says.
One thing that concerns Anderson was that after Cooke was shot, his family wasn't allowed to see him for the three weeks he was in the hospital.
Cooke was admitted to the hospital as "John Doe." "For three days they didn't know I was there," Cooke says of his family.
In a more recent case, Elvis Shifflett's family also was not allowed to see the man who'd been shot three times by police, and they say they also were unable to get information on his condition.
Albemarle policy on hospital visits to prisoners in custody is left up to the investigating officer and the medical staff, says Lieutenant John Teixeira. "Medical concerns come first, and [medical personel] will do what we ask," he adds.
In most cases, people are able to see their relatives," says Teixeira. "If they're in custody, there's a control issue. They're going to get to visit only at certain times. They can't just walk in any time."
The events of October 24, 2004, haven't affected only Cooke and his family. "That case will stay with me forever," says his attorney, Dana Slater, herself a former Albemarle cop.
Slater and Janice Redinger, who also defended Cooke, have been taken off the commonwealth's attorney's "open-file list" that allows lawyers access to police reports and witness interviews in criminal cases.
"I received a letter from Jim Camblos that said I was no longer entitled," says Slater. She believes the move is "a direct result of that case."
Camblos, reportedly considering a bid for a judgeship when Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross retires January 31, did not return phone calls from the Hook by press time.
And for the police officer who must discharge his or her weapon, "It's fairly traumatic and stressful," says Teixeira. "It's not natural to hurt people, to take a human life. Two-thirds of police officers involved in fatal shootings usually leave within two to three years."
Teixeira is disappointed by the verdict that awarded Frederick Gray's family $4.5 million; he calls it an "injustice" to Sergeant Chiarappa.
"I think quite frankly the verdict could cause an officer to think twice in defending himself and others he's supposed to protect," Teixeira says.
Robert Cooke has a lot of time to think about his case. He ponders evidence he says the jury didn't consider, such as a neighbor whose testimony he says supported his account of the timeline of events.
And he still replays that night he fled in the darkness with Gluba in pursuit. "Your life is not in danger if this man is running away," he says. "Why are you shooting at me?"
According to Cooke, he never heard Gluba say "stop," and he didn't know Ingo was a police dog. He's still stunned by the sentence the jury handed down. While he was expecting time for the gun possession charge, he can't believe he got seven years for fatally wounding a dog.
He points to other recent cases. Albemarle businessman George Seymour got 10 days in jail in a highly publicized case for shooting his neighbors' pet cat, Carmen. Former UVA student Andrew Alston got three years in prison for stabbing local firefighter Walker Sisk to death on the Corner in 2002.
"I've got a life sentence," says Cooke. "I'm paralyzed."
The real sentence?
Cooke calls his sentence "a cry for the dog" and believes his criminal history bolstered the sentence. "Convict me on what I have done," he says. "Don't keep judging me for my past."
Adds Cooke, "I don't want the public to think I'm looking for some sort of sympathy. I just want my side– the truth– to be out there."
So does Gluba, who notes he was cleared by a grand jury for the second shot he fired at Cooke.
"Then the jury that sat in on the criminal trial listened to the facts, and that's a higher standard– beyond a reasonable doubt," he notes.
Gluba still faces the appeals on both charges and the civil lawsuit, for which he has not been served. In the civil suit, "A lot will come out," he promises.
As far as Cooke's paralysis, "One person decided what happened that night," Gluba says. "I was sent there. He decided. And he's going to sit there and be bitter and play poor, pitiful me. His family is suffering the most."
Albemarle K-9 Ingo has been frequently credited with saving Gluba's life. But Cooke contends that Ingo took a bullet for someone other than Gluba. "I don't feel Ingo saved his life," says Cooke. "He saved my life that night."
Robert Cooke is kept in isolation because the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail is not set up to deal with inmates in wheelchairs.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
"America loves dogs," says Robert Cooke, and he believes the jury's sympathy for Ingo outweighed consideration for his paralysis in the seven-year sentence he received for maliciously wounding the K-9 cop.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
Kerry Von Reese Cook, like his cousin, Robert Cooke, is incarcerated at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail. Both cousins were shot by police in 2004, and both are suing.
PHOTO COURTESY CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE
Officer Andy Gluba wept over the loss of his partner, K-9 Ingo, following his encounter with Robert Cooke.
PHOTO BY WILL WALKER
Ingo's successor, police K-9 Rico, a Belgian Malinois, sports his new ballistic vest.
PHOTO BY WILL WALKER
A photo of Ingo at the Albemarle police station memorializes the K-9 who fell in the line of duty.
PHOTO BY HOOK STAFF
Elvis Shifflett shooting: Questions linger after manhunt
While the fallout from the Robert Lee Cooke shooting continues after two years, the fallout from a more recent police shooting is just beginning.
As widely reported, two Charlottesville police officers shot and wounded Elvis Shifflett, 38, of Esmont, after a three-hour manhunt October 20 that involved over 60 officers, several ATVs, search dogs, and two helicopters.
Although such events happen in a matter of seconds, as the Cooke shooting proves, the investigations, lawsuits, and public debate often continue for years.
Indeed, as Charlottesville police captain Bryant A. Bibb told the Daily Progress recently, "It's a traumatic thing to have to do, and a lot of times the frustration of what comes after is tough too." Bibb speaks from experience. In 1988, he shot and killed a suspected thief outside the Terrace Theater.
"We came out with police gear and challenged him to put the gun [a sawed-off shotgun] down," says Bibb. "Instead, he raised the gun up and pointed it at us."
Of course, devastating actions like this are equally traumatic for the shooting victim and families involved.
Elvis Shifflett's family members say that, except for a short visit three days after the shooting, they've been prevented from seeing Shifflett, whom they fear may have been permanently disabled in the incident. Local police officials, meanwhile, decline to answer specific questions about the shooting because results of a State Police investigation are pending.
Shifflett was wanted for failing to appear at a October 13 trial on assault and battery charges stemming from a domestic dispute a month earlier involving his ex-girlfriend, the mother of one of his sons. In addition to failing to appear, Shifflett allegedly confronted the woman as she was leaving the courthouse on the day of the trial, brandished a handgun, and attempted to shoot her through her car window.
According to Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo, who briefed reporters at an October 23 press conference, the girlfriend (whom authorities have refused to name) saved herself by jamming the "webbing" of her hand between the handgun's hammer and its firing pin. Charlottesville police captain Chip Harding added that the girlfriend was then able to bump Shifflett with her car and escape.
However, tensions between Shifflett and the police may have started a month earlier– on September 13– when Shifflett was arrested on the domestic assault charge. According to arrest records, Shifflett was taken into custody at the ex-girlfriend's residence by Charlottesville police officer T.D. Duncan for "resisting arrest" and "obstructing justice with threats of force," based on statements made by another Charlottesville police officer, Jeffery Sandridge.
Released the next day on unsecured bond, Shifflett signed a "recognizance" form agreeing to report to the Jefferson Area Community Corrections Program's Offender Aid and Restoration pre-trial office within 24 hours and submit to OAR's supervision, including random drug screenings.
Ross Carew, OAR's assistant director, says he's not at liberty to say if Shifflett met the terms of the agreement other than confirming his September 14 release on unsecured bond. Shifflett also signed a form reminding him of his right to counsel and the importance of showing up at his October 13 trial.
Blood is thicker than water
On October 18, after five days on the run, Shifflett made a phone call to Walton Middle School in an apparent attempt to contact one of his sons. School officials immediately contacted police, and the school went into "lock-down" for several hours, with police guarding all the entrances. Classroom doors were also locked at Monticello High School, where one of Shifflett's three children from his first marriage is a student. However, Shifflett made no further attempt to contact his children, and students were dismissed for the day as usual.
By now, police were describing Shifflett as armed and dangerous, but according to friends and family members, he was running scared, terrified that the police were going to shoot him on sight.
"Was Elvis a danger to the public or to the law enforcement officers?" asks Billy Shifflett, a nephew. "No. He was a scared man who felt that he had lost everything. And why shouldn't he?" Billy Shifflett continues on the Hook's blog. "His picture was all over the media, and he was called armed and dangerous."
Elvis Shifflett's family members say he was not carrying a "real" gun during the altercation with his ex-girlfriend outside the court house, and that the supposedly "terrified" woman was actually helping him to find a lawyer. Like Robert Lee Cooke's family, Shifflett's family maintains he is not the criminal the police have described. Although they admit that Elvis Shifflett spent time in prison on a firearms conviction, they say he had tried to turn his life around– gaining custody of his first three children, starting his own masonry business, building his own house– and is not the "monster" some say he was portrayed to be in the media.
"We want people to know that love and drugs can push some people over the edge and therefore make a person do crazy things without thinking," writes Kathy Shifflett, a niece, discussing the Court Square incident on the Hook's blog. "We feel that Elvis wasn't only running from the law, but from himself as well."
"I feel that Elvis was caught, tried, and punished all on October 20," says Elvis Shifflett's sister, who chose not to reveal her name for this story.
On October 20, after police were tipped off about Shifflett's whereabouts, a high speed chase ensued along I-64. In the car with him was Crystal Morris, 23, who family members call a friend, not a hostage, a contention Morris has confirmed in comments to the press.
Longo notes that Shifflett had a loaded semi-automatic rifle in the vehicle with Morris. When Shifflett finally abandoned the car near the Monticello Visitor's center, he advised Morris to stay put and cooperate with police. Then, he fled on foot– without the weapon.
Reporters on the scene claimed to have heard five shots fired a little after 6pm, and Albemarle County police officer Lt. John Teixeira announced at an impromptu press conference that Shifflett had been shot several times because officers had "felt threatened," one of the potential defenses for the use of deadly force by police.
Teixeira also announced that since the Virginia State Police would be investigating the shooting, he could offer no further comment.
At the October 23 press conference, Longo provided some new information, saying officers spotted Shifflett trying to steal a truck on Brookhill Avenue, just off Route 20. Although Longo, deferring to the ongoing State police investigation, refused to say whether Shifflett was armed at the time he was shot, he did suggest that Shifflett might have posed a significant threat not only to the two officers but also to members of the public. The chief declined to name the two officers who shot Shifflett, saying only that they had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. According to city spokesperson Ric Barrick, the two officers have now been placed on "administrative duty," meaning they're back at work but not in the field.
A reliable Hook source who happened to be listening to a police scanner when Shifflett was shot reported that a rescue worker spoke of a "major exit wound to the face" and suggested that there was damage to Shifflett's jaw. Among other details heard by the scanner-monitor was that at least one of the wounds came from an M16, a powerful military-grade semi-automatic. A Daily Progress photo taken at the search scene shows an officer leaning against an Albemarle County patrol car holding what appears to be an M-16. Longo refused to say whether any of Shifflett's injuries was caused by an M-16.
Another Shifflett wanted
During the press conference, Longo also announced that police were searching for Elvis Shifflett's older brother, Jeffery Wayne Shifflett, 39. Wanted on burglary and grand larceny charges in Madison County and suspected of the same in Charlottesville, Jeffrey Shifflett, Longo said, should be considered armed and dangerous because unspecified "intelligence" indicated a threat to "law enforcement."
Shifflett family members, who make no excuses for Jeffery's criminal behavior, say that drawing similarities between the brothers is unfair to Elvis, who they believe is not the criminal his older brother is.
"I will give the law credit for one thing," says Shifflett's sister. "Each time they showed Elvis' picture saying he is wanted, armed and dangerous, they followed it with Jeffrey Wayne Shifflett wanted, armed, and dangerous. They were wanted for different crimes, but, hey, do you really think the public is feeling bad for Elvis being shot when the other one was wanted for breaking into homes?"
On October 26, during a 12-mile high-speed chance down Avon Street and Route 20 South, Jeffery Shifflett called 911 and told police he would turn himself in peacefully at his sister's house on President's Road, which he did. According to press reports, Shifflett's mother came out of the house, and police allowed her to give her son a cigarette and speak with him a few moments before they took him into custody.
Since the shooting, Shifflett's family members, like Robert Lee Cooke's relatives, have complained about not being able to visit Shifflett in the hospital. They also say they have received no information about his condition.
"My mom, his dad, and his four children were allowed to see him at UVA on the Monday after the shooting for a whole five minutes," says Shifflett's sister, "and that was the only time anyone has been able to see him."
Kathy Shifflett told the Hook that her uncle had been shot first in the neck and was initially in "serious" condition, could not move his legs, was on a feeding tube because he could not move his mouth, and had two blood clots near his spine.
Shifflett has since been moved to UVA Health South's Rehabilitation Hospital, but– at presstime– family members have still not been allowed to visit. However, UVA Health South spokesperson, Rob Maloney, did say that Shifflett's mother was informed of her son's condition on November 28.
"Elvis' mother, father and children were supposed to see him on Wednesday, November 8, but the jail called his mother on Wednesday morning and told her that she would not be able to see him," says Kathy Shifflett. "Picture that– a 73-year old mother hoping and planning for a whole week to see her son, only to be told no."
Lt. Teixeira says that hospital visiting policy for people in custody is set by investigating officers and the medical staff. And although it seems the Charlottesville police are keeping Shifflett incommunicado while he's in custody, City spokesperson Ric Barrick says that in fact the City defers to the hospital. However, according to Maloney, the police have been controling the overall situation with regard to family visits and releasing information. "For visits, the family has to go through the police," says Maloney. "For information about the patient's condition, they have to go through the hospital's case manger." Maloney admits that the complexities of Mr. Shifflett's stay at the hospital may have had family confused about how to schedule visits and obtain information.
"How would you feel to have a loved one in the hospital, and you are not even allowed to see him or send a get well card? It's really hard," says Kathy Shifflett. "When we call to see how he's doing, we're told that they can't give us any information. We want answers, too."
At press time, the official investigation of the events of October 20 was still on-going, according to Sgt. David Cooper of the Virginia State Police. "These things take time," he said. Charlottesville police, however, say they expect some information to be released this week, at which time they will begin their own internal investigation. In the meantime, questions remain about just what did happen on Brookhill Avenue.
For instance, was Shifflett armed when police opened fire? If so, with what? What threat did Shifflett pose to the officers and the public? Had Shifflett succeeded in starting the truck he attempted to steal? How did an apparent domestic dispute escalate into a manhunt involving over 60 officers, ATVs, search dogs, and two helicopters?
Also, was someone else besides Elvis Shifflett injured in the shooting?
According to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad's online call log, four rescue units arrived on the scene shortly after 6pm, and two separate units made trips to the hospital from the scene. Although rescue squad spokesperson Michael Berg declined to say who the units were transporting, he did say that the call log indicated that it was likely that "at least two patients were transported from the scene."
Finally, might Elvis Shifflett, like Robert Lee Cooke, be lying paralyzed– or worse– in the hospital after an unexplained encounter with police?
Elvis Gene Shifflett was shot several times after a police manhunt on October 20, but his condition is still unknown.
PHOTO COURTESY CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE