CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – A retired Chesterfield police captain says it’s likely the case of a father shot two years ago while driving with his kids will be solved.
“One of the first things I think when I look at this case is, this is one of the most unusual set of circumstances I can remember and I have been in law enforcement almost 40 years,” said retired Chesterfield Police Captain Steve Neal. “It’s just something about this case that makes you take a step back and take a second look.”
Clavier was found shot in the head after crashing down an embankment off Hull Street Road into a tree in the patch of woods next to Cross Point Church of the Nazarene.
His four children were inside the car at the time.
“Really this is the only way we can say that we’ve done everything that we could logically to find out where the truth is,” said Captain Mike Louth.
Wife Melody Clavier has been searching for the truth since October 24, 2015.
Police said that Clavier’s gun accidentally discharged, but his family believes he was shot.
“In my heart obviously, what happened was the story I have been told over and over by my children — which was that somebody shot him,” Melody Clavier said.
Her daughter, who was in the passenger seat at the time, says she saw a man pointing a gun from a car that pulled up next to them.
Where Nick Clavier ran off the road and into a tree after he was shot
“I heard a loud noise,” Mikayla said. “I looked over and saw my dad, he was bleeding and blood was going everywhere.”
After CBS 6 interviewed the family in May 2017, police changed the status of the case from cleared to pending.
A CBS 6 investigation revealed ballistics determined the bullet recovered from Clavier’s brain did not match his gun, which police initially ruled accidentally misfired inside the vehicle.
“It seems like in this case when you have a situation where the bullet fragment or the bullet that was found does not match a weapon that was on scene then that in and of itself demands that you reopen an investigation,” said Neal. “They can use terminology and say pending if they want to but my suspicion is they are taking another look at it and my terminology for that would be to reopen the case and I suspect there is no difference.”
Mikayla said the bullet came from a car that she sketched after the accident.
“We just wanted to make sure that we were being good to our word and true to our word we said that we would do a thorough review and that’s exactly what we wanted to do and we wanted to come back to where things happened and take apart every aspect of this case,” Capt. Louth said.
Mikayla drew a sketch of a car she said she saw pull away after her dad was shot.
“The fact there is a gun that’s not on scene I don’t think that there is any way in the world you can rule out homicide,” Neal said. “They are going to have to examine everything they have and draw a conclusion whether they think it’s a homicide, a suicide or an accidental death.”
Neal believes investigators were looking for another weapon in their search for new evidence.
“Either this was a homicide and the shooter retained a weapon or it means there is another weapon they did not find or it could possibly mean there is another weapon that somebody removed from the scene before police arrived,” said Neal. “They’re trying to find whatever they can make a difference in solving this case.”
“My thought is the fact that they haven’t found a weapon that was used to kill this man... that to me would indicate that the case needs to remain open until they know for sure what weapon was used and in fact who used that weapon.”
Neal says, you can’t ignore the science and must take a look back to move forward.
“The forensic evidence... that’s the reason why we do it, so that corroborates what we thought we saw at the scene and if you find a case where it doesn’t match like in this case, then that tells us we need to go in another direction and look somewhere else,” he said.
“It would be amazing if we could have justice brought for this if something was found where a guilty party would be brought to justice that would be huge my kids wouldn’t have to worry about who is still out there,” said Melody. “I might finally have answers one day so it’s incredibly important for me and really genuinely means a lot probably one of the best Christmas gifts I will get.”
“That’s what we said all along... we’re looking for the truth,” Louth said.
“One of the things that I would caution the public to keep in mind is we don’t know everything that the law enforcement agency knows. There is no doubt [there are] some things in this investigation that have never been released to the public so the things that we know we can make judgements on, but I am quite certain there is probably evidence that we the public do not know about,” said Neal. “Sometimes there are things you just can’t release and unfortunately the public just has to trust its officials in that regard.”
Neal says, while he recognizes that the more time that passes the less likely investigators are to find new evidence, he thinks that there is a good chance this case will be solved due to the media attention that it’s generated.
“In this case you have to give Chesterfield some credit because they have really gone above and beyond and I believe they’ve done it to reach the right conclusion,” said Neal. “I believe they are doing the right thing and they want to do it right. I don’t think it has anything to do with trying to appease a family member or the public. I think they really want to make sure they got it right.”
“I think with them putting the time and effort and finances into re-looking into this case... I think if there wasn’t any reason to, then they wouldn’t,” said Melody. “I’m incredibly appreciative, it’s overwhelming to think that we may actually get somewhere that something may come of this.”
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