There are developments in the criminal case against a man shot by Albemarle County police inside the city of Charlottesville. A judge has dropped some of the criminal charges against Josue Salinas Valdez for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
Last May, two Albemarle officers went to Birdwood Court after suspecting Valdez of a hit-and-run in the county. That's when police say Valdez violently resisted arrest - even attempting to injure an officer with his own baton.
Judge Paul Peatross says Albemarle County police did not follow the law in tracking the suspect down across jurisdictional lines - crossing from Albemarle into Charlottesville. There are ways officers can cross that kind of boundary put Peatross says none of them were followed in this case.
That means the confrontation that lead to Valdez's arrest was invalid, and the policemen were technically not officers at that point and instead, just private citizens. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Valdez was shot by those Albemarle officers during that arrest at his home in Charlottesville.
“Both of them involve assault on a police as a police officer so when the judge rules he is not able to function as a police officer at that point those charges go away. Now he could be charged with simple DUI or assault and battery,” said Lloyd Snook, NBC29's legal analyst.
Snook says all this could come into play during an expected civil suit.
“When a police officer acts the police officer is entitled to qualified immunity, meaning we assume until proven otherwise that what the cop was doing was valid,” Snook said. “In this case if the civil suit goes forward and the judge in the civil suit rules the same way the police officers might lose the protection of the qualified immunity.”
The felony charges of malicious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer and assault and battery of a law enforcement officer were dropped. Valdez is still facing two charges - one felony count for failing to stop at the scene of an accident and a misdemeanor DUI offense. His trial for those charges is set for October 29-31.
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