Many of you reached out to us through social media with questions about standoffs; most of you asked if deadly force was necessary.
A tense situation ended in gunfire in Washington County, Virginia on Rocky Hill Road Tuesday.
Sheriff Fred Newman says it started when a family member called and expressed concern over the erratic behavior of Dennis Morrell. A deputy got to the house to do a welfare check, but Morrell was not home.
Newman says Morrell finally showed up but went directly into his home and refused to talk to the deputy or anyone else. "I probably called 20 to 25 times trying to get him to answer the phone. He would come to the window occasionally, come to the front door. We tried to negotiate probably three and a half hours," he said.
More deputies showed up, and that's when it escalated into a standoff.
Newman says his deputies tried ending it by using tear gas. "Hopefully to push the individual out of the residence, hopefully unarmed, to comply so that we could take him into custody, and go ahead and get an evaluation. Obviously when we utilized tear gas, he did come out of the residence holding a weapon in his right hand," he said.
We learned that's when deputies went around the front of the home and shot 'bean bags' at Morrell to get him to surrender. "A device fired from a weapon that strikes the individual, hopefully stunning them. We shot lower extremities," says Newman.
Newman says that didn't work and that's when the situation turned dangerous for officers. "He had the weapon in his hand and the officer that deployed the bean bags from his weapon, he turned the weapon on him. That's when he was shot," he said.
Morrell was taken to the hospital, where he died.
We asked Sheriff Newman about the use of deadly force and he told us there are only two acceptable situations. "If you as an officer feel like you're in a situation where you're either going to be severely injured or killed, you have a right to defend yourself utilizing deadly force or utilizing the force that is trying to be used against you," he explained.
The other is where another person is in danger of being killed.
Newman tells us training for the deputies help them during situations like this, but they always hope they do not have to use it.
There is still no word on why Morrell would not comply with police.
The Virginia State Police is heading up the investigation.