Jason Nixon questioned Virginia Beach police cooperation with the independent review

Virginia Beach residents visit a memorial outside of Building 11 dedicated to the 12 victims lost in the Municipal Center shooting. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)
Virginia Beach residents visit a memorial outside of Building 11. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Within a few days following Kate Nixon’s death on May 31 her husband, Jason, has been the champion for an independent review into the events surrounding the mass shooting at the Municipal Center.

“Kate would always say ‘If I don’t do it, who will?’ so I feel like she’d support me taking the torch and running with it,” he said.

Finally, on July 2, City Council passed the resolution opening the independent probe and City Auditor Lyndon Remias contracted Chicago-based firm, Hillard Heintze, for the review just two weeks later.

Nixon said after Tuesday’s introduction meeting he’s feeling “optimistic,” but initially, he “had some concerns” including how cooperative the Virginia Beach Police Department would be in providing evidence for the independent review team.

“[The police chief] overstepped his bounds because he’s supposed to be completely hands-off the investigation,” he said.

RELATED STORY: May 31 mass shooting independent review: Meet the team

According to a series of questions and answers posted to the City Auditor Office’s webpage July 8, Police Chief Jim Cervera has said the review team will not have access to information regarding the officer who ended up killing the suspect in a gun battle on the day of the tragedy.

And, under the list of conditions, police also said the team will sign a confidentiality agreement limiting the release of “all confidential information provided to it, which should include evidence and other confidential information gleaned from police investigative files.”

As the “liaison” for the probe, Remias said his office is there to ensure a transparent review and doesn’t “anticipate any issues.”

“Despite what the Chief may have said my adage from the get-go is that the team will have unrestricted access to all documents and people that they request to perform their review,” he said.

Nixon said he was impressed to hear those same sentiments echoed when Arnette Heintze, founder and CEO of Hillard Heintze, said during Tuesday’s meeting, the review’s final report “stops with me.”

Heintze also said his team “is sensitive” to the position of wanting the criminal investigation to proceed and feels he has the support of the police department and Cervera after meeting with community leaders.

“I could not have found a more willing leader to ensure that they supported us with the review so I’m confident anything we need from the department is going to be there,” he said. 

All words of relief for Nixon who said he’d been feeling as if he’s been “up against the system.”

“I can only hope they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do,” Nixon said. “Kate and the 15 other victims deserve it.”

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