Police chief releases few details during press conference on last week’s shooting

Police chief releases few details during press conference on last week’s shooting
Police Chief Earl Cook during a press conference. (Derrick Perkins)

By Derrick Perkins

Police Chief Earl Cook released little new information about the Presidents Day shooting death of Taft Sellers, 30, during a press conference on the incident at the department’s headquarters complex Monday afternoon.

Sellers, 30, died after an armed confrontation with police officers in an Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority residential complex on the 3400 block of Duke St. Authorities since have launched an investigation into the incident, during which witnesses recall hearing multiple gunshots, and the officers involved put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.

Authorities have released few other details about the shooting. Pressed on how many officers were involved, how many fired their weapons, the number of shots fired, the make and model of Sellers’ firearm and whether Sellers used it, Cook either said he did not know or could not release that information.

But Cook said his officers were aware Sellers was armed as they arrived on the scene. Further details would be available after the investigation, which could take several weeks to complete, he said.

After the criminal investigation, which could end with charges pressed against the officers involved, the department will launch an internal inquiry. In the meantime, local authorities have contacted the Justice Department, made counseling available for the officers and spoken with Sellers’ family. They have the department’s “heartfelt condolences,” Cook said.

“I’ve been in constant contact with the family as they deal with this difficult situation and offered my support, and the department’s support, in any way we can while the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “A police-involved shooting is a traumatic experience for everyone involve, but I can assure you no police officer ever wants to be put in that situation where the outcome ends the life of a human being.”

Sellers, a former Marine and T.C. Williams graduate, is described by friends as being pleasant and affable. They organized a fundraising event last week to help the family pay for his funeral arrangements, which are scheduled for Wednesday.