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Posted March 24, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Brother of slain man doubts police account of shooting

By Joe Beck

Bruce Jones feared the worst when someone at the Winchester Police Department telephoned to tell him to call the Martinsburg police.

Jones said the caller didn't tell him what it was about, but he had contacted Winchester police previously to inquire about the whereabouts and well-being of his brother, Wayne.

"In my heart, I knew something happened to my brother," Jones said. "I just didn't know what. I thought he might have been robbed or killed."

Jones' worries were confirmed when he stopped by the Martinsburg Police Department and learned that his brother had died the night before, March 13, as a result of gunshot wounds from police.

Bruce Jones, 49, of Winchester, was among the mourners Saturday at his brother's funeral in Winchester, and he is bluntly mistrustful of the account of the shooting given by Martinsburg police.

"I'm not a scientist or a forensic evidence person, but I feel he was executed," Jones said in an interview Friday.

A news release issued by police said officers shot Stephens City resident Wayne Jones, 50, after he stabbed one of them during a fight in which they tried to subdue him.

Police said they stopped Wayne Jones as he walking in the roadway of the 100 block of South Queen Street at 11:45 p.m. According to police, Jones admitted, in reply to a question, that he had a weapon, but refused to disclose what it was.

Police told Jones to place his hands on the cruiser to allow them to locate and remove the weapon safely, according to the news release.

Instead, he refused to follow orders and began to back away, police said. He grew "increasingly angry" as they continued to order him to surrender, according to police. As the confrontation escalated, police twice used a Taser to "minimal effect," according to the news release.

Police said Jones ran into a doorway entrance on Queen Street where the officers forced him to the ground as the confrontation intensified.

The news release gives the following account of what happened next: "In the course of attempting to restrain the subject, he produced a knife and stabbed an officer in the torso. At that point, officers backed off the subject, gave him verbal commands to drop the knife, which he failed to comply with, and observed him attempting to get to his feet. Officers then utilized their duty weapons to fire multiple rounds into the subject."

Police immediately called paramedics, who pronounced Jones dead at the scene, according to the news release. Police said they tried "life saving techniques" to no avail before paramedics arrived.

Police reported a minor wound that did not need medical attention to the officer who was stabbed, although they said the knife penetrated his uniform and vest.

The five officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave as the West Virginia State Police investigate the incident.

In the meantime, Bruce Jones and other family member have hired Shepherdstown attorney Sherman L. Lambert Sr. to represent them during the investigation and perhaps afterward.

"After this, I don't have any confidence in law enforcement officials," Jones said.

Lambert has scheduled a press conference at his law offices Wednesday where he expects to be joined by members of the Jones family and representatives of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He said he has asked an Assistant U.S. Attorney in West Virginia to conduct a grand jury investigation into the shooting.

Lambert and Bruce Jones said they are especially troubled that police reported firing at Wayne Jones as he was trying to get to his feet after they had backed off fighting with him.

"At that point, when you're on the ground, even if you have a knife, you're not threatening anyone when you're trying to get up," Lambert said.

The Jones family and Lambert are still waiting to receive an autopsy report which they hope will confirm how many times Wayne Jones was shot. In the meantime, they said they were jolted by comments from the funeral director who reported finding 15 bullet wounds in the body.

"They did not restrain him as he was trying to get up," Lambert said. "I find that appalling. I was simply horrified."

Jones said he was shocked that his brother, who was living in Martinsburg, could have died such a violent death. There was nothing in his background or character to hint that his life would end the way it did, he said.

He had not been in any trouble with the law recently, except for a recent arrest for trying to break into an Air National Guard facility, Jones said.

"He was pretty much a gentle person," Jones said. "He was loved by everyone he met ... That's why we find the situation that developed so hard to believe."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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