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Lynchburg Police Chief Defends Department Following Release of M - abc27 WHTM

Lynchburg Police Chief Defends Department Following Release of Martin Report

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Lynchburg, VA - Drugs caused Levon Deshawn Martin to die, according to Lynchburg's Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Doucette. 

Police have also been cleared of any criminal wrong doing, Doucette said.

Martin, 29, was from Lynchburg. He fled from police and died in their custody. A slew of drugs found in his system the day Martin died.

Doucette also made very clear in a news conference Wednesday that Lynchburg police were well within their authority to pursue Martin when he ran.

Rumors now are put to rest that police apprehension was the cause of his premature death.

"Quite unfortunately, Mr. Martin's death was solely an accident," said Doucette.

Doucette announced toxicology findings that showed a laundry list of substances including alcohol, cocaine, and PCP in Martin's system at the time of his death.

"As soon as they realized Mr. Martin was suffering from more than just the physical exertion of running away from them and climbing back out of the woods, the LPD officers took appropriate action to see that Mr. Martin received emergency medical care," said Doucette.

On August 20, 2013, Police saw Martin flee from a house where they attempted to execute a search warrant. Martin was chased and died soon after his apprehension.

Neighbors and friends of Martin flooded the White Rock neighborhood in anger saying police were to blame for his death.

"If he had gotten to the hospital in time, he probably would be here today" said Diago Martin, Martin's Brother, the day after he died.

Martin was not the man police were looking for.

The event even prompted a response from Lynchburg's Mayor to try and mend the relationship between residents and police.

"This is an ongoing issue and I think it would be a mistake for us to think that we only respond when there's an event" said Mayor Mike Gillette, on August 23.

"Clothed adults look much the same from the back as they're running away from you" said Parks Snead, Lynchburg's Chief of Police.

"Officers quickly, when Mr. Martin stopped and surrendered to them realized he was not the person they'd come to see. But the officers did nothing illegal, in fact, they did their job, they did what they were there to do"  Snead explained.

Martin's family has a different opinion, though. Martin's brother, Diago Martin, said in a statement, "Justice has not been served; our family does not believe anything in the report."

Diago Martin went on to say that behavior was uncharacteristic of his 29 year old brother.

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