HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- After four days of testimony and about 10 hours of deliberation, a jury found Henrico Police Officer Joel Greenway not guilty of all charges he faced after shooting into a vehicle in December 2015.
Greenway was charged with malicious wounding, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony after passenger Kimberly McNeil was hit by four bullets from the seven shots Greenway fired into a car which he believed was going to run over him.
McNeil's daughter left the courtroom screaming.
"The Henrico County Police Division stands by its core values of Honor, Professionalism, Commitment, Compassion, and Accountability," wrote the agency in an email. "We have the utmost respect for the judicial system and the community we are entrusted to serve. Today’s verdict allows us to move forward."
Greenway is still a Henrico County employee, though he is not currently in an assignment where he is actively doing police work.
"Officer Greenway will remain in that assignment until a complete and thorough internal review has been completed," the agency said.
Greenway testified Wednesday that he approached a vehicle in an Exxon parking lot on Nine Mile Road. Robert Davis was in the driver's seat when Greenway approached and asked, “What are we doing tonight?”
Greenway testified that several lottery tickets folded into small rectangles sat in Mr. Davis’ lap, which Greenway said is an indication of drugs.
Davis dropped lottery tickets immediately when Greenway approached the car, Greenway testified. He also said that when he asked to see their hands, McNeil complied, but Davis put his hands in waist band.
Greenway was alarmed, he said, and with his flashlight in his left hand, he reached back to his firearm with his right hand. The officer did not turn on his body camera.
He testified that after he repeated for Davis to show his hands, Davis drove the car forward.
Greenway said his knee began to buckle from the car, so he leaned forward onto the car with his “weak” hand (left hand). He said his face was on the hood, and with his strong hand he fired -- to neutralize the situation. As he fired, he rolled off the hood.
Greenway said he perceived Davis as a threat because Davis was never compliant, but he did not see a weapon. He said he didn't fire until Davis hit the gas.
Greenway's first contact with communications was to report that shots had been fired and he was in need of medical assistance.
The prosecution said Greenway had the opportunity to call for back up when he saw two people in the car. The prosecutors also noted that in his training, he was taught to never step in front of or behind a vehicle unless it was absolutely necessary.
Greenway agreed that approaching the car, and coming to the Exxon at all was self-initiated, there was no call telling him to come there. He also noted that he hasn’t come across a folded lottery ticket, in the way that it was in Davis’ car, with no drugs. Both McNeil and Davis admitted under oath that they used drugs -- like heroin and cocaine -- the day in question.
The prosecutors said that the requirement is to turn on the body camera when approaching a suspicious vehicle, which Greenway had the opportunity to do, but did not. The prosecutors added that Greenway never announced himself as a police officer.
The VCU Medical nurse who treated McNeil the night in question said she heard McNeil tell her daughter that Davis, her boyfriend, had tried to run over a police officer.
A second witness, Henrico County Police Officer Parker Smith, said he heard McNeil tell Davis in the hospital that she told him there was a police officer approaching the car.
Before the Commonwealth rested its case Wednesday, two experts testified about chemicals and fingerprints found on and in the car. Those experts said they did not find evidence that the car actually struck Officer Greenway, but added that that did not mean it did not happen.
Greenway's lawyers presented evidence to make the case that the officer did not act “maliciously” or “with intent.”