VB commonwealth’s attorney rules deadly shooting of a man by a cop in February was justified. Here’s why

(Southside Daily file photo/Cortesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Cortesy of Pixabay)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The police detective here who shot a man to death following an hours-long standoff in February will not face criminal charges.

Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle ruled the shooting justified, writing in a report that Det. Bradley Colas “was acting in self defense of another officer on scene when he discharged his firearm.”

“Based upon the law and the substantial evidence in this matter, it is my opinion that the Detective was within his legal authority and was justified in the use of deadly force in the situation as it presented itself; therefore no criminal charges will be brought against Detective Colas for the death of Jeffery Tyree,” Stolle wrote.

According to the report, the investigation into the shooting included “extensive reports containing numerous interviews, diagrams, photos, audio recording, video recordings and other pertinent information…”

The standoff

Police were called to a “domestic” in the 5700 block of Paiute Road just after 11 a.m. on Feb. 9.

There, police found a man, later identified as Tyree, 57, “holding a large knife attempting to harm himself,” police said.

But in the days leading up to that incident, Tyree’s family “had several encounters with him,” according to Stolle’s report released Monday. He apparently was not happy with the care his mother was receiving – that was directed toward his brother, the primary caregiver for their mother.

Stolle said in the report a “physical altercation” happened between Tyree and his brother the morning of Feb. 8. The brother tried to get an emergency committal order for Tyree but since he had no documentation of a mental condition, he was unsuccessful.

Feb. 9, Tyree’s sister found him sitting on the porch of his mother’s home on Paiute Road, Tyree became confrontational with his sister.

He threatened to harm himself “and stated he wasn’t going to jail and he would be going to the morgue,” according to the report.

Police were then called after he pushed her sister and spat on her.

There, police tried to make contact with someone at the home; Tyree’s brother arrived and led officers to the side of the house where Tyree was. Police said Tyree had a “large knife” and was agitated that his brother was there.

Stolle’s report indicated Tyree placed the knife “to his own throat and threatened to kill himself.”

An officer began talking with Tyree to get him to put the knife down. According to Stolle’s report, Tyree “formed a rapport” with the officer.

Other officers arrived on scene, including Colas, who’s a member of the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team.

What followed were negotiations that lasted for hours. There were times Tyree would put the knife down but would quickly pick it back up, according to the report.

He told police he wanted his brother and sister to watch him die.

“He repeatedly stated that he was going to kill himself, and that while he did not want to hurt officers, he was more than willing to do so if they got any closer,” according to Stolle’s report. “ He told them that, if he needed to, he would harm an officer in order to get a ‘suicide by cop.’”

After hours of negotiations, police were able to convince Tyree to put the knife down and come to the fence for some cigarettes.

As Tyree approached the fence, another officer was in a position behind a shed in a neighbor’s yard; he hopped the fence “and charged Mr. Tyree in an effort to keep him separated from the knife.”

Colas tried to wave off the officer. Tyree saw the officer and he was able to pick up his knife, according to the report.

The officer tackled Tyree and both ended up on the ground parallel to each other.

Colas and a police sergeant saw Tyree “raise his hand with the knife in a position that could strike” the officer.

It was then, the report said, Colas fired his weapon one time, striking Tyree on the top of his left shoulder.

He later died at the hospital.

Stolle said according to an autopsy report from the medical examiner, Tyree died of a gunshot wound to the torso – “the bullet traveled from the top of the left shoulder and exited at the left mid back, causing significant internal injuries.”

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.