RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia prosecutors will not seek criminal charges against a Richmond police officer who fatally shot a naked, unarmed man on an interstate highway.
In a report released Friday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring, called the death of Mark David Peters “an act of justifiable homicide,” and said that the use of deadly force was “reasonable and necessary” having regard to the particular circumstances of his encounter with the police and May 14.
Peters, 24, a high school biology teacher, was shot and killed after he struck a number of parked cars with his vehicle, then emerged from his car naked and ran onto Interstate 95. Peters was unarmed but charged at the officer, who for the first time, fired a stun gun and his service weapon.
Peters’ family has said that he was clearly having a mental health crisis and the police should have handled the encounter without lethal force.
In the report, Herring, said Peters’ death was tragic, but said that his “unexpected” and “aggressive” behavior was seen by the officer “as a direct threat for his life and for the safety of the people around him.”
“A reasonable officer in this scenario would have believed that Peters was able to overcome the officer takes control of the firearm and to use it to the injury of the driver and others. So, the whole of the circumstances of the tragic guaranteed the use of deadly force,” Herring wrote.
Herring, said the officer called for backup and tried to de-escalate the situation, but Peters was aggressive. Images of the officer’s body-worn camera shows Peters charging at the officer and threatened to kill him.
Herring noted that Peters’ conduct was the sign for him. He was a highly regarded teacher and was busy with his school on the plans to develop a program for him to mentor at-risk children and young people.
Interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues indicated that Peters began to irregular about a week or two before he was killed, Haring report said.
A toxicology report showed the presence of Ritalin, a stimulant used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. The report said Peters is not a prescription for Ritalin and a witness, and she gave him a bottle of generic Ritalin in the weeks before his death.