On Thursday, Officer Jeremy Durocher, 32, was charged with a felony firearms offense as well as aggravated malicious wounding by a grand jury. Durocher shot an armed burglary suspect during a foot pursuit, an action that led him to receive a Medal of Valor from his department as well as being named Officer of the Month.
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Durocher is an officer with the Portsmouth Police Department in Virginia. During a foot pursuit in 2017, he shot an armed burglary suspect.
While both the department and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are supporting Durocher and his actions, the grand jury has charged Durocher with two felonies for shooting the suspect, identified as Deontrace Ward.
“The ones that know what is happening on the front lines recognized him for valor,”said Nicholas Renninger, Durocher’s attorney, according to a report by Blue Lives Matter.
“He absolutely deserved that award,” added FOP spokesperson Sergeant Matt Crutcher. “He did exactly what we trained him to do.”
The incident took place on October 29, 2017. Portsmouth police responded to a call for a residential burglary.
Bodycam footage shows officers standing outside a home with their weapons drawn when a woman yells out. Durocher rushed towards the woman’s voice and spotted Ward, 18, sprinting from the residence.
“Hey! Get on the ground!” the officer yells.
“He has a gun! He has a gun!” shouts Durocher before firing several rounds.
Ward falls to the ground as Durocher climbs over a fence, repeating orders to the suspect to remain on the ground.
As other officers approach, Durocher warns that Ward has a weapon.
“He’s got a gun!” says Officer Durocher repeatedly. “He’s got a gun in his waistband.”
“He had it flying like…towards me,” says the officer, obviously winded. “He didn’t shoot, but he had it at me as he came out the window.”
Upon searching Ward, officers find a loaded weapon near the knee inside of Ward’s pants along with stolen jewelry.
Ward, who was shot in the abdomen, says that he never threatened Durocher with the firearm.
“I was just pretty much trying to get away. Showing no aggression,” said Ward during an interview. “I feel he shot for no reason.”
Ward did plead guilty to several charges, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, grand larceny, and burglary, among others, and will serve six years before being released with 10 years of probation.
If convicted, Durocher could face a life sentence for shooting Ward.
“We, the fraternal organizations of this police department, want to acknowledge our full support of Officer Durocher and his actions in the unfortunate situation that he was forced into by the accused, Mr. Ward,” said the FOP in a statement. “We want it fully known that it was the actions of one person, Mr. Ward…that brought us here today.”