Officer's defense

After reading comments concerning the officer involved shooting on Birdwood Court ["Code of silence: County clams up when cops open fire," June 14], I feel compelled to share certain information. I have known this officer [William Underwood– editor] for many years and would like to share some pertinent facts as to his competence and good judgment. This young man, a native of Charlottesville, is an exceptional human being whose entire life has been one of service.

At 14 he joined the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department. where he continues to volunteer. Out of high school, he joined the Army where he served in the "Old Guard," the elite 3rd Infantry Regiment that serves Arlington National Cemetery. He also was selected for the security detail for the secretary of defense. His civilian career includes time as a paid fireman, followed by a distinguished career as an Albemarle County police officer.   

Being patriotic, and in addition to his police service, he reenlisted in the Army Reserves. This subsequently saw him mobilized for two tours to Iraq, 2004-2005 and 2008-2009. His first tour resulted in valorous service wherein he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. His second tour also saw him risk his life to save fellow soldiers, for which he received the Bronze Star.    

Once back in Charlottesville, he continued to serve with distinction with the Albemarle police. He recently received an award for valor from the department when he and others tried to save an innocent life. It is not just his military, fire or police career that defines him. He and his father have given countless hours providing maintenance at the Virginia Elks Summer Camp for Youth and Children. He regularly cleans snow off sidewalks for the elderly in Charlottesville. He and his wife, a school teacher, are signed up this fall to work among the poor children of Guatemala.    

This man has proven his "mettle" and judgment under fire and cares for his community. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated men and women like him within our local police departments.

Colonel J. P. Jenkins, U.S. Army (RET)
Charlottesville, VA


The department is doing the officer an injustice in my opinion. All they have to do is release preliminary results of what took place. For examples only, 1) "The suspect kept eyeing the officer's firearm and finally lunged for it!", 2) "The suspect lunged at the officer with what appeared to be a knife in his hand!", 3) The suspect jumped up and yelled "I will kill you where you stand!"

Sounds like he should have stayed in the Army....

I second the character reference by Col. Jenkins. Underwood is one of the good guys. We want police officers like him. Any human being can make a mistake under stressful circumstances but, in this instance, the character and integrity of the officer are beyond reproach.

So who are the bad guys, Dave? On the police force, I mean.

Once you're trained as a soldier you're trained to kill any potential threat without hesitating. That works for wartime, but not so well for community policing. Unless you're trying to start a war...

Gasbag, I'm surprised at your comments as you often express distrust of the local police administration. Are you willing to take the "preliminary results of what took place" at face value, without assuming that these results would be spun towards protecting the officer/force from litigation?

Come on Posse C., dude was a boy scout and cleans snow from elderly persons' walks. It wasn't mentioned, but he probably loves puppies too. You want to question the judgement a candidate for sainthood just because he's been involved in a few questionable shootings of civilians?

saywha?, who has taken the initiative to accuse Underwood of shooting a "civilian" so early into this investigation? From the sound of his name it's a slim to probable chance that he might have been an illegal, with outstanding warrants somewhere already.

Posse Comitatus Violated By Proxy , based upon my past experiences (some personal I might add), I think false statements by officers and chiefs/sheriffs most always come to light. Rodney King was a best example. The cop's version of what took place sure didn't match what we saw in the video when it surfaced a few days after the beating. Second best example was the impalement of a suspect in New York. One cop who denied doing it finally turned state's evidence and admitted all 4 detectives were lying through their teeth. These 2 events alone did more damage to law enforcement than one can imagine. They were about the time the public started losing all faith and trusts in cops. Can we believe what Chief Sellers says about this shooting? I don't know, I do not know him that well yet. Can we believe what Underwood will say? I am inclined to think we can until he proves us wrong.

Gasbag, do you really not know the definition of "civilian?" It has nothing to do with citizenship. Also, there are lots of people with foreign sounding names like Shifflet, Hernandez, or Obama even who were born in the US or who have become citizens through a legal process. If you think that knowing a person's name tells you something about that person's predisposition to commit crimes, then I am yet again pleased to know that you no longer work in law enforcement.

First time you have somebody with a Mexican sounding name run into your car with no driver's license and no insurance, and then flee the scene no less, you might change your mind. It sounds like this is what the investigation was about when this shooting took place. They, as a very large group in this country now, are notorious for buying junk cars, lying to DMV to register and get license plates for them, and then getting involved in automotive accidents. They probably account for 50% of the uninsured vehicles on the highways in this country now. An uninsured Mexican ran into the back of my boss' car not long ago and demolished it. He also fled the scene and had to be hunted down like a rabid dog. It seems like nobody entering this country has ANY respect for our laws whatsoever. Even worse, the Boston bombers living on welfare, college loans and food stamps. While they sit back and devise methods to kill the hand that is feeding them. This country is broken whether you want to admit it or not.

Nice off-topic rant Gasbag. You make me proud of the police force that purged you from its ranks.

Believe it or not, me too.

J. P.,

Where is the information about what happened in the moment? I have a lot of questions? You answered none. Just saying! Did he panic?

Restore the Republic, U.S. Citizen, Human, (RET) Gardner, too. Earthling.

Too many questions and too few answers. What's wrong with a truthful answer? Just asking?

Col., with all due respect: you just recited the resume of a lifetime adrenaline junkie - albeit one who found officially sanctioned outlets for his high-risk behavior (beginning at age 14, as you note).

I don't know Mr. Underwood, and only those who do are in a position to judge your entirely subjective assertion that he's a "good guy". However, he sounds like a man who, while he's found a way to channel it somewhat in acceptable ways, has a love of high-risk, high-adrenaline action, and that's not what I'd call a "cooler head", which is what I'd rather have in non-military policing activities.