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Authorities: Stafford deputy’s fatal shooting of teen was ‘justifiable homicide in self-defense’
RELATED: View the full investigative report
By KEITH EPPS
The fatal shooting of a Fauquier County teenager who was gunned down by two Stafford deputies in his home last month was a justifiable homicide, authorities said Friday.
Evan Newsom, 17, was killed at his home in the 12000 block of Tacketts Mill Road in Fauquier near the Stafford County line. Deputies from both jurisdictions went there early Nov. 2 in response to an abandoned car and an assault.
A joint statement issued Friday by Stafford Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen and Fauquier Commonwealth’s Attorney James Fisher indicates that Newsom committed what could be described as “suicide by police.”
The prosecutors wrote that Newsom set the fatal chain of events into motion when he attacked a Stafford deputy with a knife, cutting his sleeve and his arm. That deputy and another Stafford deputy responded to the “clear, direct and imminent attempt to kill or do grave bodily harm” by opening fire, they said.
Prior to that, according to the statement, Newsom had assaulted his mother and a neighbor. He also brandished a knife and made statements such as “it’s over,” “I’m not going to jail,” “just shoot me,” and “I’m not going down like that.”
He also had exhibited “self-injuring” behavior and had told his mother that he would never return to the Department of Juvenile Justice and that “they would have to kill me.”
“The facts strongly suggest that the subject had a clear prior intent to have a fatal encounter with the police and that he acted in conformity with that state of mind,” the prosecutors concluded.
Newsom’s mother, Angela Newsom, said Friday that she was not yet prepared to respond to the results of the seven-week investigation. But Newsom has previously made it clear that she does not believe the shooting was justified.
In a letter sent to The Free Lance-Star last month, Newsom disputed claims that her son attacked a deputy and said there was no good reason for police to go into the home to confront her son, who she said was posing no threat at the time.
Angela Newsom said that she was dubious of the police investigation and wanted the matter to go before a jury. She said that while her son did some things wrong that evening and would have faced consequences, “he wouldn’t have gotten the death penalty for it and I wouldn’t have unloaded a gun in him for it.”
Police began an investigation about 4 that morning after someone reported a Hyundai Elantra in a ditch a short distance from the Newsom residence. Evan Newsom had taken the car following a dispute with his mother.
Police said Stafford and Fauquier deputies routinely work together on cases in that rural area, and that’s what occurred that day. Fauquier deputies were outside the home while Stafford deputies went inside. Angela Newsom and others were outside when multiple shots were fired.
Evan Newsom was a senior at Liberty High School in southern Fauquier and was Angela Newsom’s only child. His mother said he was planning to go to college and eventually become a veterinarian.
Angela Newsom said that while her son had had some issues in the past, he’d been doing well for the past year until the evening of Nov. 1.
The prosecutors’ joint statement called Newsom’s death a “tragedy. Unfortunately on November 2, 2012, Evan Newsom placed the deputies responding to his violent acts in a position where it was necessary for them to use deadly force.”
Video from press conference on day of shooting: