Hampton Chief: Police shooting was ‘a tragedy for everybody involved’

Hampton police said a man hit an officer in the head with a baseball bat, and another officer shot him in response.

HAMPTON, Va. — The Hampton Police Division said one of its officers shot and seriously injured a man on Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson said officers responded to the Wynne Ford dealership on West Mercury Boulevard, near the intersection with North Armistead Avenue.

According to police, a 30-year-old man — later identified as Christopher Clayton Rice of Newport News — had been acting disorderly with a baseball bat outside of the dealership. The employees locked the doors, moved out of eyesight, and called police.

In an afternoon press conference, Police Chief Mark Talbot said officers who first arrived at the scene shortly after 11 a.m. then called for a supervisor to help de-escalate the situation. 

The supervisor who showed up hasn’t been named, but Talbot said she’s a 20-year veteran of HPD.

Talbot said she was speaking calmly to the man with the bat, encouraging him to put it down, when he swung it and hit her in the head. That’s when another officer shot the suspect.

“She tried to encourage him to put down the baseball bat. She asked over and over again, made no threats, spoke with a relatively calm voice,” Chief Talbot said. 

More than one shot was fired, but Talbot said they’re still investigating to find out exactly how many were fired.

Medics took the HPD supervisor and Rice to a hospital. Her injuries weren’t life-threatening, but the man who was shot had potentially life-threatening injuries.

Talbot said he’s reviewed body camera footage from the scene and was proud of the way the supervisor had been handling the situation before the suspect hit her.

“It’s a tragedy for everybody involved, and we’re hoping that everybody gets through it the best they possibly can,” he said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is investigating the case to make sure HPD followed correct policy and procedures.

Talbot said he visited his officer in the hospital since the incident. He said she was in tears about the situation.

“She said to me, ‘I just wanted everyone to get home safely,'” Talbot said. “Including the man with the baseball bat.”

The police sergeant has since been released from the hospital. 

As of Thursday afternoon, police said Rice remains in critical but stable condition. He currently has warrants on file for malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and trespassing.

A news release from the division said the officers involved would be on paid administrative leave until criminal and administrative investigations about what happened were finished.

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