BASSETT — Search warrants in two localities provide more details about a police officer-involved fatal shooting in Bassett last month.
Deputies from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Dec. 5 call from Bassett, where residents said a man was trying to force his way into a home on Philpott Drive.
When they arrived , 24-year-old Martinsville resident Johnnie Carter was standing outside. Carter allegedly shot at the vehicles and the officers returned fire. Carter was wounded and later died as a result of the exchange.
A search warrant filed in Roanoke Circuit Court by Richard Conley , a special agent with the Virginia State Police, said the Henry County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a similar emergency call from Philpott Drive.
The 911 caller stated that a black male, later identified as Carter, was attempting to force his way into the residence and was firing a handgun.
Special Agent William Odell of the Virginia State Police told Special Agent Conley that he interviewed one of the residents. The resident said that Carter arrived at the house and retrieved a handgun from a bookbag, firing it in the air.
Carter then pointed the gun at one of the residents of the home, according to the warrant. Then deputies arrived at the scene and the suspect fired at them.
The Roanoke search warrant sought to obtain a cell phone that had been picked up by investigators at the crime scene . Along with the phone, crime scene technicians also located a bookbag near where the suspect was found.
Another search warrant, filed in Henry County Circuit Court by State Police Special Agent Patrick Meade said four people were inside the home on Philpott Drive at the time of the shooting.
The warrant also stated that deputies from both jurisdictions arrived at the same time. The suspect then “turned on the police officers prior to them exiting their vehicles and immediately fired on the responding officers. Responding officers retreated to cover and returned fire and the suspect stopped shooting at the same time.”
The Henry County search warrant sought “firearms, cartridges, cartridge casings; hair, fibers, blood and or DNA evidence to show identity of the victim or suspect; clothing, to include footwear; any documents located at the scene to show pre-planning; any cellular device left on the scene from the victim or suspect.”
The warrant detailed a number of items gathered from the scene, including a Rock River Arms 5.56mm rifle, one magazine containing 30 rounds of ammunition, one magazine containing 26 rounds plus one, three rifle cartridge casings, a Hi Point model JHP 45 auto ACP handgun with one magazine empty, eight .45-caliber cartridge casings, one black jacket, the previously mentioned bookbag, the cellphone and seven rounds of Winchester .45 automatic ammunition. Crime scene technicians also obtained a swab from a “red stain” at the scene.
The Virginia State Police is handling the police investigation. It’s unclear from the warrants if those weapons belonged to one person or multiple people.
Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Nester asked the Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to handle the matter because of the close working relationship between his office and the sheriff’s office.
“At this point the investigation is not complete so I will not comment,” said Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney Billy Davenport on Thursday. “I expect it will conclude in the near future.”
Davenport did not say when that investigation might wrap up.
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said two officers had been placed on administrative leave pending the State police investigation.
He declined to name the officers last month and said, “They have been through an extremely difficult situation as well and they have an emotionally trying time…. We want to give them a period of time for healing so at this time we’re not releasing their names.”
Perry cited administrative protocol that directs putting involved officers on leave. “We feel at this time the officers were in a situation that they had no other option,” Perry said last month. “It was a very dangerous situation and they responded.”
Perry again declined on Thursday to disclose the officer’s names.
“One of the officers has returned to work. The other is performing administrative duties within the office,” he said.
Nester, Henry County Deputy Administrator Dale Wagoner
and state police also declined to identify the officers involved.
Tracie Cooper of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke on Thursday referred all questions to the state police.