Watchdog group presses officials on Lynhaven homicide


By Derrick Perkins

Former Washington detective Nicholas Beltrante is keeping the pressure on local authorities, urging Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel to convene a special grand jury to indict Craig Patterson.
Patterson, 44, allegedly shot and killed 22-year-old Julian Dawkins following a confrontation on the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive last month. While friends and family immediately called for the Arlington sheriff’s deputy’s arrest, city police did not charge Patterson with murder until more than a week later.
Beltrante, executive director of the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability, initially predicted that law enforcement officials would drag their feet during the investigation. He said Patterson’s arrest came as a welcome surprise.
“I’m pleased to see this,” Beltrante said. “I feel the correct decision was made; I do hope it results in justice for the victim.”
But because Patterson is an area lawman, Beltrante believes a special grand jury is needed. In a letter to Sengel, he wrote, “It will best serve the victim, his [family] and friends — and the numerous citizens of the City of Alexandria who are seeking justice regarding this tragic event.”
Sengel declined to comment on Beltrante’s request but said he hadn’t ruled out a special grand jury.
“We’re continuing to investigate the case and it will be handled appropriately, and we will consider any and all options,” Sengel said.
Patterson returns to court in August for a preliminary hearing.
Beltrante previously called on Sengel to convene a special grand jury and appoint a special prosecutor in the investigation of the death of 30-year-old Taft Sellers, who was killed during an armed confrontation with police officers in February. Sengel declined, arguing his office was up to the task.