WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) — Assuring protesters that he had learned from the unrest that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri, a Virginia police chief met with members of the public who have questioned the events surrounding the reported self-inflicted death of a 20-year-old man who was being chased by authorities.
Winchester police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher on Wednesday invited a group of about 25 demonstrators into the police station's lobby to discuss the Sunday death of D'Londre Minifield, The Winchester Star reported (http://bit.ly/1WWQDgc).
Virginia State Police are investigating Minifield's death. Police said his death was caused by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound as officers approached a group of men. Witnesses have said police shot Minifield, accusations that have sparked two days of protests.
Authorities have said no officer ever fired a weapon and said that a gun that had not been issued to officers was recovered at the scene.
Sanzenbacher said he wanted to engage the community and answer their questions about how investigations typically unfold.
"We learned some lessons with Ferguson," Sanzenbacher told the group, referring to the 2014 shooting death of a black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer. Brown's death and dissatisfaction with the police investigation that followed touched off prolonged protests, a series of riots and a national dialogue about race and policing.
"If we make a mistake, we're going to jump on it," Sanzenbacher said.
The police chief also implored the group to inform his department of any planned demonstrations so officers can plan accordingly and close streets if necessary.
Information from: The Winchester Star, http://www.winchesterstar.com