On January 7, Albemarle County police released video footage from the dashboard camera of Officer Greg Davis that shows Davis hitting local painter Gerry Mitchell as he was crossing W. Main Street. The video shows Davis’ car waiting at the southbound red light on Fourth Street, then turning left onto W. Main before violently striking Mitchell and throwing him from his wheelchair.
The incident was in the jurisdiction of Charlottesville city police, and the footage also appears to back their claim that Mitchell was crossing the street while the illuminated red-hand symbol was still lit. After Davis’ cruiser hit Mitchell, the video shows him and a bystander help Mitchell back into his chair and move him out of the street.
Albemarle police are still conducting an internal investigation into the accident. Police Spokesperson Lieutenant John Teixeira said that the decision to release the video while the investigation continues is an “unusual step” and that police Chief John Miller made the decision to go public with the footage during the investigation.
“We normally don’t release video or audio during an ongoing investigation,” said Teixeira. “But we know this has caused some concern in the community and we wanted to address those concerns.”
During a 10-minute impromptu press conference, Teixeira apologized for the accident three times. Mitchell has said repeatedly that he wanted an apology, though city police have yet to offer him one. Teixeira also took the opportunity to speak out against what he called “conspiracy talk” or rumors that officers had been covering for each other in Mitchell’s case.
“When you hear the conspiracy talk, or talk about the blue wall, there’s none of that,” he said. “None. And I think that may have led to the decision to release this tape.”
Teixeira said that he expects the internal investigation to conclude in two weeks and that Davis was not disciplined after the accident. “He’s a very good police officer,” he said. “This had affected him on a personal and professional basis.”
Along with Teixeira’s apologies, Miller issued a written statement, saying, “We regret any situation involving one of our officers where a citizen is injured, and we are sorry that Mr. Mitchell was injured in this incident.”
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