Security guard involved in Pokemon Go shooting appears in court

The security guard accused of shooting and killing a man who was playing the mobile video game Pokemon Go is in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- The security guard accused of shooting and killing a man who, according to family members, was playing the mobile video game Pokemon Go appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

A judge certified the charges against Johnathan Cromwell, meaning the case will move to circuit court.  

It was Cromwell's first court appearance since his previous legal representation was removed from the case, and he was assigned public defender, Robinson Winn.

Cromwell, 22, is charged with second-degree murder and use a firearm in the January killing of Jiansheng Chen.

The preliminary hearing came down to a simple question, did Cromwell shoot Chen in self-defense or was it murder? 

The courtroom was packed as Cromwell entered the court. Multiple witnesses who responded to the scene that January night testified, explaining what they saw and heard. 

A detective testified, saying he spoke with Cromwell right after the shooting. The detective said Cromwell told him, "I didn't want to but I had to." 

Cromwell's attorney argued Cromwell was in fear for his life that night. He said Chen's car lunged toward Cromwell and if Cromwell didn't shoot, he would have been run over.  

However, the Commonwealth's attorney said there was no evidence Chen's car was moving and argued the bullet positioning proves Cromwell can't argue self-defense. The commonwealth argued Cromwell first shot through Chen's driver side window, then moved to the front of Chen's car, shooting five more times. 

Friends of the Chen family were also in court. They listened as a forensic pathologist explained gunshot wounds were found in Chen's face, neck and torso. 

"It was very saddening," said family friend Star Chen. "I truly believe this ordeal and this circumstance could have been avoided altogether."

Police say Chen was sitting in his minivan in a parking lot when he was shot by the security guard after an altercation. Chen's family has said the man was playing Pokemon Go.

In April, Cromwell's attorney asked to be removed from the case, citing a deteriorating level of trust and a lack of communication. The judge granted the request, and Cromwell was assigned a court-appointed attorney.

Cromwell has remained in jail since his arrest.

His next court appearance is scheduled for July 5. 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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