Man acquitted of assault on law enforcement officers
WOODSTOCK – The videos from deputies’ body cameras show the unfolding of a real-life scenario like those that have led to officer involved fatal shootings in other places around the nation.
A man holds a knife by his side. Shenandoah County deputies Erin Brogan, Timothy Wakeman and John Armentrout stand a few feet away, guns drawn, shouting at him to drop the knife.
The suspect, Corbyn Lee Rush, 38, of Maurertown, wanders about unsteadily, urging the deputies to “just kill me,” as they continue alternately ordering and pleading with him to drop the knife.
“Just calm down, Corbyn,” one of the deputies tells him.
A couple of officers from Strasburg and Woodstock appear and fire Taser projectiles at Rush. Rush is hit but seemingly unfazed and, as he reaches to pluck a Taser prong from his torso, he drops the knife.
The deputies dash toward Rush, pulling him to the ground, where he is handcuffed and subdued. No bullets were fired. No one harmed, except for a couple of small puncture wounds where the Taser projectiles hit Rush.
Rush was jailed, but last week, almost seven months later, a Shenandoah County jury acquitted him of most of the charges he was facing – three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and three counts of assault and battery that stemmed from a related dispute with family members. The jury, which viewed the body camera videos during the trial, deliberated about 40 minutes before returning its verdict.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski has dropped another charge of assault and battery against Rush. Zalenski refused to comment on the outcome of the trial.
One of Rush’s attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Peter McDermott, said the evidence, including the body camera footage, showed his client did not intend to harm the deputies or make them feel fear, which is one of the requirements for convicting a defendant of an assault charge.
“He had a knife in his hand and was walking around screaming he wanted them to kill him,” McDermott said of Rush.
A criminal complaint filed by Brogan against Rush states that she was called to his Maurertown residence where she found him with the knife. His sister, in an interview following Rush’s arrest, told Brogan that he had assaulted her, the complaint states. The complaint also states that his sister was also taken to the hospital for treatment of her injuries.
On one of the videos, Rush tells one of the law enforcement officers that he had drunk six beers before the incident. Court documents state he registered a blood alcohol level of .13 after his arrest.
McDermott praised the law enforcement officers at the scene for not escalating the confrontation with Rush during the tense moments when he was still holding the knife in his hand.
It was not the first time Rush had been Tasered. A court document states he told the arresting officers that he had been Tasered while serving a sentence in federal prison.
“The officers did a great job in not allowing anyone to get hurt and should be commended for their restraint,” McDermott said.
Video: View police body camera video of the incident at TheNVDaily YouTube channel – https://youtu.be/P5_Pn7tX9xM.
Note to readers: This video contains some profanity.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org