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Newport News Police Chief responds to videos of arrest, says man assaulted officers

The situation started in the area of 30th Street and Roanoke Avenue, the Newport News Police Department said.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A Newport News man was arrested after allegedly assaulting police officers that pulled him over Tuesday night.

Lawrence Moe Fenner, 31, was charged with four counts of assault on law enforcement, possession of a firearm by a violent convicted felon, obstruction of justice with threats and force, having a concealed weapon and fraudulent altering or forgery of license plates.

The situation started in the area of 30th Street and Roanoke Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the Newport News Police Department said. Officers pulled Fenner over because he was allegedly speeding and his car had a registration violation.

Police Chief Steve Drew said as officers were getting out of their cars to come talk to him, Fenner leaned over to the right, dipping entirely out of their view, which caused some concerns.

Once the officers started talking with Fenner, they asked him to step outside of the vehicle. They allegedly spoke for a few minutes, before he said he wouldn't listen to them.

Then, out of concerns about safety, the officers tried to take Fenner out of the vehicle, and he physically resisted them, Drew said.

When the officers eventually got Fenner out of the vehicle, he allegedly began to assault them. One of the officers used a Taser to stop Fenner. He was then taken into custody.

People near the scene took videos of that scuffle, and they've been circulating online, generating questions about the officers' behavior. In a press conference Thursday, Drew said the officers were using department-taught methods to get Fenner to let go of a police officer who had been pulled to the ground.

The officers had minor injuries, the Newport News Police Department said. Medics assessed Fenner, who was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation.

During the investigation of what happened, officers found a gun inside the vehicle.

Some neighbors along Roanoke Avenue say they woke up to the sounds of people yelling. Theodore DeHart lives right next door to where the incident occurred.

He says he didn't think the officers needed to use that level of force. 

"I'm just scared, not going to lie," said DeHart. "Everyone wanted just... this not to happen. It wasn't right. The guy had been hit in the face and thrown to the ground. No one knew what he had done, but they saw what they were doing to him."


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