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Stafford deputy to face new trial

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The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday granted a new trial against a Stafford County sheriff’s deputy accused of using excessive force in a deadly 2008 confrontation.

The appeal was filed by Stafford County resident Terry Gandy, who has maintained for years that deputies went too far when her husband was shot dead in the backyard of their Hickory Ridge home.

The suit originally named deputies Neal Robey and Joseph Pittman, who are still with the Stafford Sheriff’s Office.

It also named Sheriff Charles Jett and the commonwealth of Virginia, but they were eventually dropped as defendants.

In August 2011, during a five-day civil trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, a jury cleared Pittman of wrongdoing.

The ruling on Robey, however, was complicated.

The jury cleared the deputy of negligence, but also found that he used excessive force and awarded $267,000 to Terry Gandy in the wrongful death case.

Judge Leonie Brinkema set aside the verdict and award because the jury found that Robey had reason to fear for his life when he shot and killed David Gandy.

In the Thursday ruling by the appeals court, the judges wrote that the contradictory nature of the jury’s verdict and award “leave us no choice but to remand for a new trial.”

No date has been set for a new trial.

The deadly incident happened in June 2008 when four deputies responded to the Gandys’ home in southern Stafford. David Gandy’s adult son called 911 to report that his father had a gun and was drunk and suicidal, according to court testimony.

During the nighttime confrontation under the Gandys’ backyard deck, Robey shot Gandy three times, twice in the back.

A gun was recovered from beneath Gandy’s body at the scene, according to the deputies. No blood was found on the weapon, according to testimony.

During the trial, Terry Gandy’s attorney, Peter Grenier, asked how that was possible since David Gandy bled profusely where he fell.

The Gandy family insists that the officers are covering up an unjustified shooting. They say Gandy was unarmed and trying to open a basement door when he was shot.

Terry Gandy could not be reached for comment Friday on the appeals court ruling.

The Sheriff’s Office has defended the shooting. The deputies have said Gandy pointed a gun at them, after they had told him to drop it and had fired Tasers at him.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bill Kennedy said on Friday that they had no comment on the case.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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