LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Charleston WV Officer Killed By Friendly Fire


A Charleston police officer was shot and killed in a friendly fire incident early Sunday after pursuing a dangerous suspect who police say was ramming police cars when officers opened fire.

Patrolman Jerry Jones, 27, was shot just above his bulletproof vest, said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said. Jerry Jones' sister-in-law, Pam Jones, said he was also shot in the arm.

The suspect, whose name has not been released, also was killed in the gravel area along Quick Road outside the city.

At a press conference Sunday evening, Jones and Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said the family had just been told about the friendly fire beliefs in a meeting with police.

"We have every reason to believe this was friendly fire," Jones said. "We wanted to get this out there because ... some people are pretty cynical and think we want to hold things back and we're not. The sheriff's department has to investigate this but we have every reason to believe the bullet came from a police officer."

On Saturday the suspect rammed his truck into the car of a woman he knew, Webster said. He led police on a chase, which was eventually called off, he said.

After midnight Sunday, Patrolman Jones spotted the suspect's truck on the East End, Webster said. He pursued the car from the intersection of Washington Street and Ruffner Avenue to Greenbrier Street, then onto Pinch Road, Webster said. The suspect had a female passenger in the car, he said.

The suspect pulled over in a gravel area on Quick Road, Mayor Jones said. By then three other police officers in their patrol cars had joined the chase. The suspect rammed one of the police cars "full throttle" Webster said. The suspect tried to push through the vehicle, Webster said. He then backed up and rammed again into two other vehicles, trying to push them out of the way, Webster said. It was then that police opened fire, shooting both the suspect and Jones, he said.

The man in the truck didn't have a gun, Webster said. He said he has watched a police video of the incident that was taken from one of the patrol cars. He said that although he was mortified at what happened, the officers were justified in their use of deadly force.

"The vehicle was being used as a deadly weapon," Webster said.

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is investigating what happened, Webster said.

Other officers arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting. Jones was given CPR and later pronounced dead at CAMC General Hospital, Webster said.

Currently five Charleston police officers are on paid administrative leave because of the incident, some because of post-traumatic stress from witnessing the scene after arriving after the shooting, Webster said. He stressed that administrative leave is mandatory after such incidents and while an investigation is ongoing.

As Jones and Webster held the press conference, weary Charleston Police officers drifted in and out of the room.

"He was a young man in his 20s, with a young wife," Jones said. "About half the police department showed up last night, between 3 and 6 in the morning, at headquarters. His wife and parents were there too. Their son went to work and didn't make it back."

Early Sunday, Jerry Jones' sister-in-law Pam Jones talked to the Gazette by phone.

"His parents are not here right now, they are meeting with police as we speak," she said. "The police have been exceptional. They came and took his parents and wife to the hospital. Police are like a family of their own. They take care of each other.

Jones had long wanted to be a firefighter, but ended up a policeman, Pam Jones said.

"He's always been a public servant. That's just the type of person he was," she said. "He graduated high school one day and left for the Marines the next."

Jones was in the Marines for five years, she said. As a member of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, he helped secure Kandahar airport in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001.

According to a Marine Web site, 80 infantry Marines from the 26th MEU flew into Kabul to secure he U.S. embassy shortly before Christmas in 2001. The embassy reopened a short time later.

Jones' family still lives in Big Chimney, where he grew up, though he lived in Charleston, Pam Jones said.

He met his wife Samantha at Elkview Baptist Church, which they both attended, she said. One of his friends had dated her and, before he asked her out, Jerry asked the friend if it was okay.

"That's just the kind of person he was," she said.

The two didn't have children. They were waiting until Samantha finished dental hygienist school for that, Pam Jones said. They did have a dog, a golden retriever named Cooper, she said.