LATEST: Investigation into Tazewell Police Officers over, officers cleared

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. UPDATE: TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) — Two Town of Tazewell Police Officers will not face any charges following an investigation of use of force.

Chuck Slemp is the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County. He was appointed to investigate use of force after a video surfaced of two officers arresting Anthony Fuller.

According to Slemp, Sergeant M. Steele and Officer J. Stevenson responded to a call about a ‘disruptive’ customer at a store in Tazewell. A store employee claimed Fuller was ‘threatening another customer’ and then left in a pickup truck. The officers eventually found Fuller and his truck, but he refused to identify himself. Slemp also said Fuller ‘manipulated an object in his left pants pocket multiple times.’

The officers tried to move Fuller away from his truck, but he refused. The officers then tried to grab ahold of his arms, but he resisted. Sgt. Steele then took out his taser and warned Fuller he would be tased if he did not stop resisting. Fuller did not listen to several other warnings and Sgt. Steele discharged his taser.

Slemp stated when Fuller was hit by the taser, he charged towards the officers and ended up against the police cruiser. That is when a struggle started between Fuller and the officers. He continued to resist and ended up falling on the ground. During this struggle, Fuller grabbed Sgt. Steele’s taser and a pen, and stabbed the Sergeant’s hand.

It took two police officers, one civilian, one department of corrections officer, and two sheriff’s deputies more than five minutes to bring Fuller under control. Investigators found a switchblade in his left front pocket, and multiple throwing axes and a machete in his truck. A blood test at a hospital also revealed Fuller had meth, marijuana, and alcohol in his system.

In conclusion, Slemp stated, “It was Fuller’s actions, by refusing to comply with police orders, manipulating the knife in his pants pocket, and continuing to lean into the vehicle where he had weapons stored, together with his disorderly conduct at the public business and threats to customers, which necessitated the officers’ actions.  Therefore, I conclude that these officers acted appropriately and in accordance with the law of our Commonwealth.  I further conclude that it was because of their decisive action that day, training and experience, and excellent use of good judgment that innocent lives were not put in danger by the suspect’s erratic behavior.”


ORIGINAL STORY: 59News mistakenly said in a Facebook live, the Tazewell City Police Chief confirmed two of his officers were under investigation for using excessive force. That was wrong.

Here is the statement Chief Mills did issue:
“Tazewell Police department is aware of video footage circulating on social media in regards to the incident on August 11th, 2021 at the 4 way section in the Town of Tazewell. The agency wants to assure the community that this matter is being taken seriously. Tazewell police department along with the Tazewell County Commonwealth Attorney and Virginia state police met on August 12, 2021 to request an investigation to be conducted by the Virginia State Police. At minimum, the Virginia State Police will review body camera footage from the officers directly involved use of force reports, incident case reports, any public cell phone footage, and speak to witnesses. Pending the results of the Virginia State police investigation, the Tazewell Police department has placed the officers directly involved in this incident on administrative leave. Rest assured, when the Tazewell County police department is presented with the final status of the Virginia State Police Investigation, the agency will be forthcoming with the results. The agency is reaching out to citizens to encourage anyone that has further information regarding this matter to contact the Virginia State Police.”

Two Town of Tazewell Police Officers are on administrative leave following the arrest of Anthony Fuller. Videos surfaced of the arrest. Fuller is charged with two counts of assault on law enforcement, disorderly conduct, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. The Virginia State Police are investigating the two officers involved.

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