To the editor:
We would be remiss if we failed to respond to the comment from O. Johnson that appeared in the July 25 edition of the Alexandria Times (“From the web”).
To begin, we wish to inform Johnson and others that the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability is a statewide, grassroots resident advocacy group that is dedicated to making the commonwealth a better and safer place for all of its inhabitants. One of our primary objectives is to promote police accountability.
We are a pro-police group whose membership includes retired local and federal law enforcement officers. As we made it known, we fully agreed with Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel’s decision not to prosecute the officers who fired the fatal shots that killed Taft Sellers on February 18. We concur that the officers who fired their weapons did so in self-defense and that pressing criminal charges against them was not appropriate.
However, the fact that five officers fired their weapons indiscriminately is a cause of concern for our coalition and others for good reason. According to Sengel’s report, some 25 shots, which missed Sellers, hit railings along the wall, the stairs, the stair railing, concrete and brick areas, and a residence.
This in itself indicates that these officers acted inappropriately, failed to use good judgment and fired in a reckless manner. This is clearly a case of abuse of power.
We would hope Johnson would express his or her remorse for the former Marine who was killed and not criticize our coalition for its input in this tragic event.
– Nicholas Beltrante
Executive director, Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability