Charges Dropped Against Gerry Mitchell

The city is dropping their citation of Gerry Mitchell for jaywalking, WINA reports. Commonwealth’s attorney Dave Chapman found a technicality on which he could drop the charges: §46.2-925 specifies “pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words ‘Walk’ or ‘Don’t Walk’,” and thus Mitchell’s crossing was legal, since the intersection only exhibits walk and don’t walk icons. The ill-advised ticketing came after Mitchell was hurled from his wheelchair when a police car collided with him.

41 Responses to “Charges Dropped Against Gerry Mitchell”


  • If Mitchell’s crossing was legal, the city police should now place charges against the county cop. I bet you’ll never see it happen though.

  • Not in a million years will he be charged. Perhaps Mr. Mitchell should file charges of his own.

  • Jan, have you ever attempted to get a warrant against a local police officer? Let me tell you, you could tie a rope to a Boeing 747 and physically pull the plane to Washington by yourself much easier. The entire system has a total meltdown when a civilian walks into the Magistrate’s Office and asks for a warrant against a police officer. If the commonwealth attorney is going to drop the charge in court because Mr Mitchell was legally crossing the street, Mr Mitchell does have a better civil suit now though. This of course is just my opinion though, I am not an attorney. You’ll never see the outcome of the civil suit though. The county will fight it tooth and nail until the judge sets a firm trial date to hear Mr Mitchell’s claims. As soon as the trial date is set, the county will want to settle out of court with a signed and sealed settlement hiding the amount of money they have agreed to pay Mr Mitchell for his damages. The signed and sealed settlement will also state that neither party is admitting fault.

  • vry interesting, Dave. But why would any of the witnesses be talking with the Albemarle Police Internal Affairs? In a case like this Internal Affairs is out to clear their officer most likely. And clear the county of any liability.

  • It’s rare to citizens speaking at a Council meeting actually get results.

  • But Chapman said in the DP article that he would prosecute the case of the visually-impaired woman in a wheelchair hit at UVa. WHY?? What is the difference? Neither should have been ticketed. Does he not “get it?”

  • Sorry Demo. I must have been on drugs thinking a citizen would actually get some justice in this town. Now that Debbie Wyatt is retired, probably not a lawyer in town would take this on pro bono.

    However if any of us had run over someone we’d be charged and sued probably.

  • Dave– Why do you have to find a technicality in order to do the right thing? Just stand up and say it is ridiculous to charge in a case like this. You know damn well that if you took this to trial a jury would run you out of town on a rail. We would all respect you a lot more for just saying what everyone is thinking instead of serving as an apologist for the cops. They blew this one and you should tell them so.

  • You know damn well that if you took this to trial a jury would run you out of town on a rail.

    No need for rail-running — jury nullification would do the trick nicely. :)

  • It was a freaking accident! Could have happened to anyone, especially with all these morons in this town talking on cellphones while they drive. Definitely it should have been handled better by the police as far as the aftermath, they probably should have just done an accident report,with an accurate diagram and witness info and let a civil jury decide, they need to hire a better PR person or get some Sergeant’s who realize they are policing the Peoples Republic of Charlottesville… People in Watts are more pro-police then the liberals in this town are. The definition of a liberal in my book is someone who has never been mugged. To me it sounds like both parties contributed to the accident, let a civil jury decide who was most at fault and drive on. This is one slow ass news town if this is the front burner issue of the day.

  • Old School, speaking of recent accidents, do you think the BAC level of Mac Sloan will ever be released to the public? Or will his accident just fade away and be forgotten now?

  • Aren’t all traffic incidents freaking accidents? People get charged everyday for freaking accidents. No one thinks that the cop ran over Mr. Mitchell on purpose.

    He needs at least to be put behind a desk for awhile.

  • How one could be ignorant of jury nullification after the saga of OJ is beyond belief. That verdict may not fit the exact definition of jury nullification but ir was close.

  • I had forgotten about it until Waldo brought it up. Interesting paper.

  • Jan, a lot of so called accidents are nothing but pure negligence. The Mitcehll case is a fine example. And would you trust this officer behind a desk? He would probably be shooting pencils and paper clips into the ceiling with rubber bands and put somebody’s eye out!

  • Better behind a desk than behind the wheel or holding a gun. Hell, he even admitted he was negligent (looking “down” he said).

    I’m not saying he be sent to jail for 20 years. I think a disciplinary write up, a suspension without pay, off the streets for a month, a demotion.

    I think hitting someone would be wreckless at least. How about these big abuser fees kicking in for this guy. Maybe a $3000 fine would be warranted.

  • Waldo, you have given Dave Chapman a free pass for far too long. For him not to call out the cops on this is just sad. You of all people should know what a power hungry prosecutor can do

  • Oh I can guarantee Chapman would be all over this if an average citizen struck Mr. Mitchell. I highly doubt if we’d walk away from this because it was an accident.

    They ALL stick together-the cops, the Council, the prosecutors and the CA. Us taxpayers (you know us who pay their salaries) are pretty much on our own.

  • There are no jury trials for misdemeanors, dudes.

  • Waldo, you have given Dave Chapman a free pass for far too long. For him not to call out the cops on this is just sad. You of all people should know what a power hungry prosecutor can do

    “A free pass”? I wrote about it here, I provide a forum where people can say whatever they want (and say they do.) What more do you want?

    The only person that I’ve ever aggressively covered on cvillenews.com is Jim Camblos, and that was after years of witnessing him get away with stunningly egregious behavior — I’m sure I don’t need to catalog his exploits here again. I’m not in the business of giving passes or not giving passes. I’m just a twenty-something with a blog.

  • I am glad you can acknowledge that you aggressively posted against Camblos. I just feel that you have not aggressively gone after Mr. Chapman when you had the chance, fair is fair. Here are some examples. #1That band teacher in the City who got a sweetheart deal for having sex with all those students in his office. He got what 2 years while the Western teacher got 10 years for an email..#2 That lady who spent that extra month in jail because Chapman and the Clerk dropped the ball. Chapman got away with defending the Clerk and blowing up the Public Defender’s office, which was the only office not at fault. Noting like switching the blame and getting away with it. #3 Why have Charlottesville’s most experienced prosecutors fled the City to go to the County to WORK for the most hated Camblos? #4 Why did the local bar find both Chapman and Camblos not qualified to be judge a few years ago? You obviously know some members of the defense bar, ask them what they think.

    I stand by my Free Pass post

  • P.S. You can have a jury trial for pretty much anything in VA. From a speeding ticket up to murder.

  • OK, correction. You can get a jury trial, but only on appeal. Talking misdemeanors here (pretty much everything below felony reckless). So what does it take to get an appeal granted? What is the best strategy to get it to circuit court so a jury can hear it?

  • Kathy, you forgot the murder case he and the police royally screwed up not long ago, two suspects telling lies on each other. They finally succeeded in getting one of the suspects 2 years in jail for perjury. Ronnie Powell was his name. Just give ’em time, they might screw up the McCown murder too before it’s over.

  • colfer, you don’t have an appeal granted. It’s a right in Virginia. If I go to court Wednesday and am convicted of littering, I can appeal the judge’s decision right then and there by going in the clek’s office and signing a notice of appeal. It is then reheard at a later date in the Circuit Court. In Circuit Court you can request trial by judge or trial by jury.

  • Very interesting cases people are bringing forth about that Chapman’s office handled less than well. After this term he will have served as long as Camblos did. May be time for a change.
    I have never cared much for Chapman, even though I thought he seemed capable due to to the fact the he pushed out Steve Deaton, a very capable prosecutor and a good man. All about politics, the city Dem machine in action.
    Deaton was a strong supporter of groups like the Sexual Assault Research Agency, just the type of person we need. Chapman came in from the county, an assistant prosecutor under either Camblos or his predecessor Lester Wilson.
    Maybe I am biased because I knew Steve as a personal friend,but I thought it was a shame when a few dissident Democrats got together in a caucus and denied him re-nomination. My gradual disillusionment with the city political structure started back then.

  • Steve Deaton! What a joke! I wouldn’t vote for him if he ran for dog catcher.

  • #1That band teacher in the City who got a sweetheart deal for having sex with all those students in his office. He got what 2 years while the Western teacher got 10 years for an email..

    I was pretty strong in my condemnation of that, but the problem there appears to have nothing to do with Chapman. The judge suspended the bulk of Spivey’s twenty year sentence, which would seem to be a judicial problem, not a prosecutorial problem. But I know very little about the criminal justice system, so I can’t say. More confusing still, one case was federal and one was state. I have no idea what the sentence should be for either of these crimes — maybe ten years is appropriate, or maybe two years is appropriate — so I can’t say which case is the problematic one.

    #2 That lady who spent that extra month in jail because Chapman and the Clerk dropped the ball. Chapman got away with defending the Clerk and blowing up the Public Defender’s office, which was the only office not at fault. Noting like switching the blame and getting away with it.

    I wrote strongly about that, too but, again, that story was way over my head. White’s attorney said it was Paul Garrett’s fault. Garrett said it was her attorneys’ fault. That was the point where I no longer had the slightest idea of whose fault it was. I think the Progress eventually had an editorial saying it was Garrett’s fault, but I don’t remember. If Chapman ever had anything to do with any of that, I don’t remember hearing anything about it.

    #3 Why have Charlottesville’s most experienced prosecutors fled the City to go to the County to WORK for the most hated Camblos?

    I dunno. Have they? Maybe because one pays better than the other? Maybe it sucks working with city courts?

    I give up — why?

    #4 Why did the local bar find both Chapman and Camblos not qualified to be judge a few years ago?

    They did? The only judgeship that Camblos ever applied for, to my knowledge, was a year ago this month, when six others and him all wanted Judge Peatross’ seat. Dave Chapman was not one of those six. Plus, the bar wasn’t naming who was qualified, they were simply naming their choice for the judgeship. If Chapman has ever sought a judgeship, that’s news to me.

    You obviously know some members of the defense bar, ask them what they think.

    I do? Who is on the defense bar? I’m not actually sure what “the defense bar” is. Defense attorneys? Or public defenders? Or something else more specific?

    You seem to assume that I have a great deal of knowledge that I quite clearly do not. Your belief that I’m giving “a free pass” to Chapman is premised on incorrect assumption. You may as well accuse me of giving “a free pass” to Vladmir Putin; I just don’t know anything about the man.

  • “But I know very little about the criminal justice system”

    That did not seem to slow you down when it came to Camblos.

    Chapman, Camblos and about 10 other lawyers went for the General District Court Bench when Judge Helvin left, Judge Downer got the robe. Both elected Commonwealth Attorney’s were not rated Highly Qualified by the local Bar.

  • That did not seem to slow you down when it came to Camblos.

    You’re missing an essential distinction here. The criticisms that you’re making of Chapman are inside baseball. They require some legal knowledge, which, like most people, I do not possess. On the other hand, with regard to Camblos, one need not be an attorney to know that it’s wrong to let somebody get away with murder.

    Chapman, Camblos and about 10 other lawyers went for the General District Court Bench when Judge Helvin left, Judge Downer got the robe.

    That was sometime in the mid to late 90s, IIRC. I’m not sure I was old enough to vote then. I’m certain that I wasn’t even old enough to drink. Again, you assume that possess more knowledge than I do.

  • I’m gonna have to disagree here. I do not recall Chapman ever seeking a judgeship in this area.

  • Both Dave Chapman and Camblos sought the General District Court seat now held by Downer. The bar found only 4 of the many candidates qualified: Higgins, Hingeley, Huber, and Downer, as I recall the four. They found Dave and Jimbo unqualified. SUBSEQUENTLY, because the Republicans wanted Jimbo as payback (he had also, I believe, wanted the J&D court judgeship but got on board with Dwight), Paul Harris, then Republican delegate, formed his own committee with local prominents such as Leigh Middleditch. They recommended three, Hingeley, Huber, and Downer. Again not Camblos.

    Second, let me add a warning — about any use of the so-called internal affairs dept of APD. Never in my decades of practice have I EVER seen any actual good use of that system. Ever ever ever. Not with the Squire Hill shooting, not with K.W.Robinson’s videotaped pummeling of a suspect who wouldn’t talk, not with anything I ever knew of (or, early on, naively reported to IA). Most recently, if not before, it came to seem to me to be nothing more than a sort of free discovery for the police (nail down those chosen statements) in defense of any lawsuit. I began to ask that, if they want to talk to my witnesses, I get to talk to theirs — no deal. Believe me, as long as Miller has been Chief, you should do the planet a favor and save the paper the complaint would be written on. Save the info. Keep to yourself if you ever want to do anything with it for real. Think of it like complaining to Bush about Condi.

    Next to lastly, I do believe that, whether excusable accident or not, the officer if he were not an officer would have been charged with reckless driving on the spot hands down. Not even close. The prosecutor’s thinking would be — let a judge or jury decide. I’ve seen weaker cases by far pursued to the max (man had a seizure–pursued vigorously on charges of felony hit and run–and he hadn’t even run, hadn’t hurt anyone, just car damage, as one example)

    Lastly, Albemarle apparently pays much better than the City, which has accounted at least in part for the exodus.

  • Excellent letter, Debbie. Convincing people that everything you say is true is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Especially the part about the so called Internal Affairs divisions. People simply refuse to believe the corruption, thievery, and lying that takes place on the local levels of law enforcement.
    Did you know after the videotape police brutality, Robinson was hired as a Louisa Township cop by police chief Stan Batten (formerly fired at Alemarle County Police too). He didn’t last long once town council found about about his past. If they had a lick of sense they would have gotten rid of Batten at the same time too.
    I didn’t recall Chapman being in the running for any judgeship. If you say he was, I am sure your recall is working better than mine right now.
    You girls need to lay off Camblos now though. Cheryl kicked his butt in the judgeship race. And Denise kicked his butt in the commonwealth’s attorney race.

  • To find a candidate “qualified” for a judgeship probably does not mean the rest are unqualified. Paul Harris, a local lawyer at the time and a member of the House of Delegates, recognized that the process of bar review was highly political (how else could Hingesley get in there?) and sought to bring attention to it by starting a different process. It would be great if the General Assembly changed the current process.

  • Cville Eye–

    You are correct that finding a candidate “qualified” does not mean the others are “unqualified.” However, in this case, the bar actually reported the individuals at issue as “not qualified.”
    I also agree with you about the politics of judgeships but respectfully must disagree 180 degrees about how that played out in that case. The bar organizations are in fact the least political — based generally throughout my experience on what we fellow lawyers actually think of the abilities, integrity, and temperament of fellow lawyers who want to be judges (plus, yes, some favoritism here and there). Paul Harris –whom I generally respected but hey, the truth is the truth — in this case needed a political out and we all knew in this town at that time that his committee was formed to take the heat off himself–translate: it was entirely political. (Didn’t Bell do something similar, then refuse to reveal the results?) Though I have not been inside Harris’ head, I am assuming you have not either and thus I believe that whole bit you wrote about his wanting to change the process is, how to put it, bunk.
    I would add, the whole issue of how judges should be chosen is a very sticky one, not to be changed lightly — we do NOT want them elected, and so someone else must pick. Thus it depends on the integrity of our politicians which has often been lacking, wouldn’t you agree?

  • I have had several conversations through the years with jurists who would like to change the system of selection, ever since Hamlett was appointed. The question is, who are the lawyers who vote on the selection locally, primarily defense lawyers? Ambulance chasers? Each group has his own interests at heart. Surely every state does not appoint it judges as we do in Virginia. I will say that I have know Mr. Harris for several decades, and yes, I agree with you, it was political and I will assert that there really isn’t any aspect of the process in the bar’s recommendation that is objective and therefore it is totally political.

  • Wait, so if I see someone in a crosswalk and the sign says “don’t walk” (or some symbol that implies that) then I’m legally allowed to mow them down? I vaguely remember something in drivers-ed about pedestrians always having the right of way… I also have this sense that its a bad thing(tm) to hit a pedestrian regardless of what traffic signals are currently being displayed.

    This is a simple matter of right of way. Do cops have right of way over pedestrians or the other way around?

    The word “accident” is misleading. Every motor vehicle collision is the result of driver error and/or mechanical failure. It doesn’t matter if its unintended or unexpected. “looking down” or closing ones eyes while driving are examples of negligence and actions that can easily lead to a collision. Simply because the specific results of your actions are unexpected does not mean they are not the direct result of your actions.

    In major transportation disasters (like airline crashes) they do root cause analysis to determine exactly what happened and why, and then take steps to prevent the same series of events from happening in the future. Traffic collisions are so commonplace its simply not practical to do this analysis for every collision. I feel that since this was a trained government employee in a government vehicle of which there are countless exact duplicates, root cause analysis is worth the expense.

    Although I have not investigated anything at all, I do have a guess as to a major factor involved in this incident. Get those fucking laptops down off the dash. If I put one on my dash, how long do you think it will be before I’m cited for “Driving with an obstructed view”?

  • The state code doesn’t seem to exempt law enforcement vehicles from an obstructed view. So technically, police cars are violating the law every day they oepn their laptops. You on other hand…. will indeed be cited for the offense most likely. (Even GPS systems seem to be illegal if they block the view through the windshield in any manner.)

    —————————–

    § 46.2-1054. Suspension of objects or alteration of vehicle so as to obstruct driver’s view.

    It shall be unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle on a highway in the Commonwealth with any object or objects, other than a rear view mirror, sun visor, or other equipment of the motor vehicle approved by the Superintendent, suspended from any part of the motor vehicle in such a manner as to obstruct the driver’s clear view of the highway through the windshield, the front side windows, or the rear window, or to alter a passenger-carrying vehicle in such a manner as to obstruct the driver’s view through the windshield. However, this section shall not apply (i) when the driver’s clear view of the highway through the rear window is obstructed if such motor vehicle is equipped with a mirror on each side, so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle, (ii) to safety devices installed on the windshields of vehicles owned by private waste haulers or local governments and used to transport solid waste, or (iii) to bicycle racks installed on the front of any bus operated by any city, county, transit authority, or transit or transportation district.

    (1960, c. 122, § 46.1-291.1; 1972, cc. 8, 844; 1987, c. 135; 1989, c. 727; 2003, c. 273.)

  • It is unfortunate that Mr. Mitchell had to suffer and I am only glad it was not worse. The video is startling and gives a much clearer picture of what happened. It is also totally hilarious to hear “My Humps” playing on the police car radio.

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