WISE, Va. — A Wise County deputy has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting July 17 of a 16-year-old boy near Appalachia, Virginia.
Deputy Robert Wayne Robinson, who suffered five stab wounds as he attempted to arrest the teenager, was “justified in his actions,” according to a report released Tuesday by county Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp. No criminal charges will be filed, he added.
Slemp held a news conference in Wise on Tuesday to announce the findings resulting from his own investigation, which came after a probe by the Virginia State Police.
Robinson’s life was threatened, according to Slemp.
“He acted in an appropriate manner in accordance with the laws of Virginia,” Slemp said.
According to Slemp’s report, early on July 17, the Sheriff’s Office began investigating separate reports of a missing 16-year-old boy and a missing 13-year-old girl.
That afternoon, there were reports that the two were together in a stolen vehicle in the Pine Branch area of Dunbar. When deputies arrived, however, the car was gone, so they split up to search for the pair.
Robinson located the vehicle in a remote area, and his body cam and dash cam footage provided much of the information in the report about the altercation, along with testimony from Robinson. The footage showed Robinson trying to arrest the young man, who reached back into the car at one point to get a “hawkbill style knife” that he used to attack the deputy, according to the report.
In written testimony, Robinson described the teenager swinging at him with a knife. The teenager then stabbed Robinson, and the two fell to the ground. A struggle ensued between Robinson and the teenager for a few seconds as the deputy “tried to take the knife,” according to Robinson’s statement. The deputy then fired one shot.
The teenager, who has not been identified, was later pronounced dead at the scene.
The 13-year-old girl was not injured, Slemp said. She later said to police that the 16-year-old boy had two knives in the car. One was eventually recovered from the car, while the other was found in the boy’s hand at the scene, according to the report.
Robinson was stabbed in his face, neck, ear and head, resulting in severe blood loss. He was airlifted to the Johnson City Medical Center, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit in critical condition, Slemp said in the report.
“The deputy had reasonable apprehension of the immediate danger to his life or physical safety. Thus, the deputy used force necessary to defend himself from the perceived threat and the use of force was reasonable in relation to the perceived threat. In the end, it was the suspect’s act of attacking the deputy and continuing to attack him with the knife while on the ground which required the deputy’s response,” the report states.
“There are events, such as this, which can never be explained,” Slemp said. “All we can do is pray for the family of this juvenile and for the deputy who was forced to take such action. Our hearts go out to all involved in this matter and we sincerely hope that they can find peace eventually.”
Robinson has since been released from the hospital and continues to recover, the report states.