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Was teen’s shooting justified? Mother wants answers
BY KEITH EPPS
The mother of a teenage boy who was shot and killed by a Stafford County deputy earlier this month hopes to see someone stand trial in his death.
State police said early on that Evan attacked a deputy with a knife before being shot, but they have not released an update regarding their ongoing investigation since the day Evan died.
Angela Newsom wrote a letter this week to The Free Lance–Star in which she insists there was no reason for her son to die. She acknowledges that Evan had done some things wrong the previous evening, but she says there was no need for deputies to barge into her home without a warrant. She also disputes claims that Evan attacked the deputy, who has not been identified.
She said a trial before a jury is the only way she will get answers to the questions she and others have raised.
“I know what Evan did [that night] was wrong and he would have had consequences as a result,” Newsom wrote. “But he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty for it, and I wouldn’t have unloaded a gun in him for it.”
In a letter titled “Evan F. Newsom’s Homicide by Police,” (which can be read at the bottom of this story) Newsom expresses skepticism regarding the ongoing state police investigation. She writes that she is “gravely concerned” that pertinent details are being covered up.
She said Fauquier deputies were already aware that Evan was inside the home alone and posing a threat to no one when Stafford deputies showed up and made a bad situation worse.
Police began an investigation that morning about 4 a.m. when someone reported a Hyundai Elantra in a ditch a short distance from the Newsom residence. Police later went to the Newsom home. Angela Newsom said Fauquier deputies waited outside and Stafford deputies went inside.
Police said Stafford and Fauquier deputies routinely work together on cases in that rural area.
Evan and his mother moved to the home in Fauquier in July. Angela Newsom wrote that Evan had had some problems in the past, but for the past year had been doing well—until the evening of Nov. 1.
She said an argument with her son turned physical, and he later took her car without permission. He also bit the thumb of a neighbor later in the evening who had stopped him from taking off in another car, she said.
But she said deputies only made things worse by shouting derogatory comments to her son and making the ill-fated decision to enter the home.
Angela Newsom was outside when she heard multiple shots.
Evan was a senior at Liberty High School in southern Fauquier who his mother said was planning to go to college and eventually become a veterinarian. In addition to a love for animals, she said, his past hobbies included Scouting and swimming. He would have turned 18 in January and was Angela Newsom’s only child.
State police spokesman Les Tyler said again Wednesday that police had no further comments on the investigation.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
The following is the full text of a letter sent from Angela L. Newsom:
Angela L. Newsom
November 20, 2012
Re.: Evan F. Newsom’s Homicide by Police
“Evan and I had argued Thursday evening, November 1, which led to a physical confrontation and
him hitting me in the face and taking my keys from me. Things had never escalated to that degree before and after I could see that neither of us was going to calm down enough to resolve the situation that night, I went to my bedroom. Evan came up to my room before I went to sleep and apparently could see marks on my face. He looked regretful and panicky. He told me he would leave me the keys the next morning. Apparently he took the Elantra after I went to sleep. Evan only had a learner’s permit and was not allowed to drive unless I was in the car with him. I would never have given him permission to drive the newer car in the middle of the night at seventeen years old, even if he had a full driver’s license. Being an inexperienced driver and having had no experience on these country roads at night, I speculate he only made it that ¼ to ½ mile before the car ended up in the ditch and he had not driven anywhere else. There is a dent in the right rear corner, however, that makes me wonder if he had been hit by another vehicle prior to going off the road.
“I was woken up around 3:30 AM by the neighbor but from what I was told, she had gotten a call a short time earlier from Fauquier deputies about the Elantra in the ditch. She and her husband had come over to see what was going on and Evan came to the door after being asleep on the sofa in the family room.
“He had walked home after the car accident. They were trying to talk Evan into going to the car and letting them help get it out of the ditch and back home in the driveway. Apparently Evan did not want to do that and said something about how much trouble he was going to be in and wanting to run, at which time he went outside and got in the older car. The husband told Evan to give him the keys but Evan wouldn’t so the husband started trying to physically take them from Evan. That is the time I was woken up by the wife and came outside to help. The husband was able to take the keys from Evan but Evan bit his thumb in the process. At that point, the wife called Fauquier deputies back.
“Evan ran into our home and locked the door while I stayed with the couple in the front yard, awaiting deputies. Fauquier deputies arrived and asked what was going on. They were informed of everything that had transpired, that Evan lived here, was seventeen years old, we had no weapons, and he was in there alone, and had never hurt someone with a weapon. Fauquier deputies suggested they walk with me to the front door while I used the key to unlock the door so we could go in and talk to Evan. I, with
deputies at my side, tried three times unlocking the door but Evan ran up to the door and used his hand to hold it closed and locked the door back each time. Then he ran to the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife. He held both arms up in the air while holding the knife and said “it’s over”. I pleaded with him to stop and think at which time he backed up in the hallway and deputies started telling him to just open the door. Evan started smart-mouthing them but never threatened to harm them or anyone and never opened the front door to try. Fauquier deputies told me they would have to break the glass at the front door to gain entry because Evan wouldn’t open the door. They said if he wouldn’t drop the knife then, they would have to use a tazer. They said they had to wait for back-up though so back-up could cover the back doors and Evan wouldn’t be able to run away with that knife. I didn’t like it but deputies said
there was no choice. The deputies then told me to get off the front porch and go back into the yard
because they thought glass would be breaking soon, so I did.
“A second unit arrived and I’m not positive but one deputy from that unit might have told Fauquier deputies one short, quick sentence. There was certainly no discussion between them about what Fauquier had already assessed or planned. I assumed at the time, that information had been relayed over the radio by the second deputy on the porch after I had moved back into the yard. I don’t think Evan had any idea a second unit arrived because they had pulled into the neighbor’s driveway and never went upon the front porch. The husband next door then led the second unit thru the attached mother-in-law apartment to use a back stairway that allows access to the upstairs of the main home,
which Evan and I live in. When the husband started leading the second unit to his front door to enter, one deputy on the front porch started yelling very loudly to Evan “You’re a pussy, you ain’t no man, go ahead and do something, you aren’t man enough to do anything” over and over.
“This went on for two to three minutes which would have been about the time it would take to get thru the mother- in-law apartment, up the back stairs, and thru the upstairs of the main home to the stairway at the main entryway. Then I heard pop, pop, pop, then glass breaking. There was no delay between any of that. No one heard police announce their entry to Evan or any warning to put down the knife or they would fire and no one heard sounds of a physical altercation. I later learned from the neighbor that the deputies refused the suggestion to guard the door and entered the main house with guns drawn.
“The deputies in the home remained inside for several minutes, at least, before coming out. Several other units had arrived during that time and the lady and her eighteen year old son in the basement apartment had walked around the side of the house, past the front porch, and joined the young couple and me in the front yard. Once deputies started going and coming from inside the home, I was first told that Evan had stabbed a deputy in the shoulder (which wouldn’t have been a superficial injury), then I was told that Evan had never actually hurt anyone, then I saw one deputy pass a first aid kit to another and overheard the one taking it say “oh, it’s just a little cut from a broken piece of glass, it’s no big deal”. Later I was told that the eighteen year old had seen Evan’s head and outstretched arm lying in the open doorway, which is interesting because the front door hadn’t opened until after Evan was shot multiple times so how did his head get there?
“Witnesses were segregated and made to sit in the back of squad cars awaiting state police to arrive as deputies walked around and conversed and wrote their reports in the front yard. Once state police finally arrived, we were driven to a police station and interviewed separately by state investigators.
“I was told the investigation was to determine if deadly force should have ever been used. I was told they would be at the house until the evening gathering evidence as part of that investigation. I gave all information I knew to the two investigators interviewing me but was never given any statement in writing to review and sign. I later learned that out of the five adults interviewed, only one had been requested to write and sign a statement. I’m gravely concerned that all relevant witness’s statements and facts won’t get submitted to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for consideration while he makes his decision regarding the homicide being justifiable and whether or not this case should go to trial.
“After the interview, I went to a hotel for the remainder of the day since I was not allowed to return to the home until they came to pick me up. I was advised not to speak to anyone about the details of the case and only call the state police with questions or additional information. I was shocked to be in the hotel room, turn on the news, and find that state police had issued a press release at 11:00am stating that Evan had attacked and slashed a deputy after an altercation ensued but that it was a superficial
injury that was treated at the scene. I had not heard anything that would lead me to think there was an altercation inside the home between Evan and a deputy and I don’t see how there would have been time for one between the time of the yelling match between Evan and the deputy at the front door and the time the shooting started. I also learned from the news report that it was actually Stafford deputies that had entered the home and shot Evan, not Fauquier as I had assumed. So I have to wonder if they knew anything at all about the situation that Fauquier deputies had already learned when they entered the house or if they knew and decided to take matters into their own hands, and I wonder why they would be taking matters into their own hands when the house is located in Fauquier County and Fauquier deputies are already at the scene, have assessed the situation, and have formed a plan. There was no immediate threat from Evan being holed up alone in his own home with a steak knife and no other weapons, so what was the urgency in getting to him?
“When two different investigators came to the hotel they wanted to question me again. All questions were either about the car or Evan. No questions were about what happened at the house regarding the shooting. They had not brought my purse or cell phone as they had told me they would. They took me home and told me where I could go get my pets, which they had removed for the investigation and had promised they would bring back, and they told me where the Elantra had been towed.
“When I returned to the home, the landlord and his handyman were here to board up the sidelight where glass had been broken. The handyman had taken pictures of the scene and they pointed out several facts to me. First but not most important, not only was the sidelight glass broken but the front door was busted open because the chain lock was left dangling from the door and the trim where the other part was mounted had come off. What would be the purpose of Fauquier deputies breaking the sidelight glass and busting open the adjacent door both when they could see what was going on inside the house and Evan was already shot multiple times and a Stafford deputy is only one to three feet away? Isn’t that breaking and entering without just cause? Shouldn’t Fauquier County have to pay for those repairs?
“Secondly, are the blood locations and bullet holes in the baseboard, wall, and bathroom door.
Referring to the half bathroom that is located adjacent to and accessed by the hallway where Evan was, the bathroom door was normally left cracked open. There is a bullet hole in the baseboard of that bathroom and there are no signs that the bullet passed through the door or wall, meaning it must have been fired when the door was cracked open and given the location and obvious angle, it would have to have been fired from the foot of the stairs but the person would most likely have been far back in the corner at the foot of the stairs or else they would have been right in front of the sidelight and it’s unlikely that deputies on the porch would have busted glass in the sidelight if another deputy is
standing just on the other side of it. Then, there is a bullet hole in the bathroom door and one lower in the back wall of the bathroom that is in alignment and suggests that someone was standing halfway up the stairway and shooting and the bullet went thru the bathroom door then thru the wall beyond in the bathroom. There were two small pools of blood in the hall in front of the bathroom door and a smudge of blood that might be where Evan’s head hit on the bathroom door. So it’s easy to surmise that the first shot was shot when the bathroom door was cracked open but because Evan was in that location in the
hallway, subsequent shots led to him falling against the door, causing it to close. The hallway is wider than the typical residential hallway and Evan could not have been in arm’s reach of either shooter from that location.
“Further, that was the last location I saw Evan standing in so I seriously doubt he even
approached either officer and obviously, he had not pursued deputies upstairs or on the stairway as they entered the home. There are no signs of any physical struggle or altercation.
“Then, I noticed the search warrant for this investigation by state police and it indicates that part of what was removed from the home were nine casings. I can’t help but wonder if Fauquier deputies busted thru the sidelight and door because they saw that Stafford deputies were firing excessively and out of control. But I can’t be sure of that because it was a Fauquier deputy yelling at my son and egging him on to do something prior to the shooting. And it remains in my mind that if this was all a “cut and dry,
no choice but to fire” situation, why did the deputies’ stories change? And if this is really a thorough investigation to see if deadly force should have been used to begin with, why was it presented to the public thru the media by the very agency investigating that Evan had attacked a deputy, making his homicide justifiable, hours before they had even finished gathering evidence and they hadn’t even removed Evan’s body from the home yet?
“As far as who Evan was as a person, Evan was a senior at Liberty High School and making good
grades. School teachers and staff appear to have thought highly of him. He planned to attend college and ultimately, hoped to be a veterinarian. We had only been living in this area since July but he had made many new friends here who by all accounts, are typical and well-adjusted teenagers.
“Evan had had struggles in the past as an adolescent and young teenager but was never considered violent. There was every reason to believe that all these struggles were behind him this past year because he was doing so well and seemingly very happy. He had earned the Arrow of Light as a Cub Scout and had been an avid swimmer in the past. He loved animals and had contributed to the welfare of many in several different ways. He had a heart of gold and was very protective of animals and children and took pride in his ability to help classmates.
“He would have turned eighteen in January and like many that age, he was pushing some boundaries
at home the past few weeks before his death because he wanted more freedom than I was comfortable with at that time. Evan was my only child and I did have a tendency to be over-protective and strict with him in many ways, even at seventeen years old. Evan was not a known drug-user and to the best of my knowledge, had only tried small amounts of alcohol a few times in his life. Toxicology reports have not come in yet.
“I know what Evan did Thursday evening and during the night was wrong and he would have had
consequences as a result. But he wasn’t the first teenager to do something like that and he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty for it and I wouldn’t have unloaded a gun in him for it. If anyone other than police had unloaded a gun in him for this, they would have been arrested. The remaining questions people have are the same questions I have and I think they should be answered by responsible parties in front of a judge and jury. I have difficulty accepting that some think it would be unnecessary or unfair to deputies for this to go to trial when my son’s due process and day in court was stolen from him by deputies who decided to prosecute him on the spot and gave him the death penalty.
“If they were that afraid of a teenager with a steak knife, given the lack of urgency and lack of risk to anyone else, then why did they go in that house and walk within ten feet of Evan? Why not call the SWAT team and let Evan stay holed up like they would if he’d had a gun or pipe bomb? I think they went in there and shot him because they were not afraid of a teenager with a steak knife and they knew he posed no risk to them, as they had guns drawn from the time they entered the house. They went in the house with the sole intent of killing him, in my humble opinion.
been standing. Bathroom door is shown open on left but was not open at the time of Evan’s shooting. Stairway is on right but difficult to see clearly.”