An Arlington man shot by police claims officers aren’t telling the whole story about the incident that led up to the shooting — and he expects video evidence will help him prove his case in court.
County police shot Steven Best several times on May 3 on a street just off Columbia Pike, claiming he tried to flee a traffic stop and nearly hit officers with his van in the process.
But, in a series of court filings, Best’s attorneys allege that he was trying to surrender when police opened fire on him. They claim he was confused and trying to protect himself as he drove away from the scene, rather than attempting to harm any of the officers involved.
Best’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comments on those claims, but court documents show they’ve repeatedly sought access to video footage from nearby businesses, arguing that it will provide Best with crucial “exculpatory evidence.”
“He’ll be innocent of these charges when everything comes out,” Heather Rose, Best’s sister, told ARLnow. Best and the rest of his family otherwise declined to comment on the case, but they’ve frequently proclaimed his innocence in an online fundraiser to pay for Best’s legal and medical expenses.
County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said she “can’t speak” to Best’s claims of innocence, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos declined to discuss them as well.
In the police department’s account of the shooting, officers tried to pull over Best near the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Edgewood Street, as they were searching for the passenger in Best’s car: 40-year-old Jessica Lary of Annandale, who was wanted on a warrant for violating her parole.
Police say officers approached the vehicle on foot, but that Best “ignored their verbal commands and struck police vehicles in an attempt to flee the scene.” Two officers then opened fire on Best as he drove down 12th Street S., striking a parked car in the process.
Police say Lary and Best abandoned the vehicle near the intersection of 13th Street S. and S. Irving Street, where they were subsequently arrested. Savage added that neither Best nor Lary displayed any weapons during the incident. Three police officers were taken to a nearby hospital “for evaluation” afterward.
In Best’s version of events, several “unmarked police vehicles abruptly boxed in” his van and “unidentified officers drew their weapons immediately and began firing.”
His attorneys claim that Best “raised his hands to surrender,” leading to one of his fingers being “shot off.” The lawyers allege he was then shot “five additional times while sitting in his van.”
“Mr. Best attempted to drive away for the safety of himself and his passenger,” the lawyers wrote.
The attorneys made these arguments as part of an attempt to earn Best’s release on bond in mid-May. They acknowledged his past run-ins with law enforcement — Arlington court records show Best pleaded guilty to a series of drug charges from 1999 through 2008 — but argued he’d been working to turn his life around.
A judge ultimately agreed to his release, and to discontinue his electronic monitoring.
Best’s case will now head to a grand jury, which will determine whether his prosecution will move forward. Police originally charged Best with two counts of the attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, but he’s now only facing one — Stamos says prosecutors decided to move forward with the pursuit of a single charge against Best “after a review by my office.”
The case was originally set to go to a grand jury in August, but Stamos now hopes to “present the case to the grand jury later this month.” A grand jury is currently set to convene on Sept. 24.
In the meantime, court documents show that both Best’s lawyers and prosecutors are pursuing surveillance video from businesses in the area.
Best’s attorneys most recently won a subpoena for video from the Day’s Inn hotel at 3030 Columbia Pike, arguing that the video recordings of the hotel’s exterior parking lots “contains exculpatory evidence” for Best. The lots are located near the intersection of 11th Street S. and S. Highland Street, roughly a block from where police say the incident took place.
Photo via GoFundMe
Search for Next Circuit Court Judge — “The Arlington County Bar Association’s judicial-selection committee is gearing up for a Dec. 22 nominating-committee meeting to propose a successor to Circuit Court…
Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published 5 articles that were read a total of 14658 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today…
After a slight weather delay, the second leaf collection pass will start tomorrow (Tuesday). Arlington County initially posted the second vacuuming could start on Saturday, Dec. 3. Despite the delay,…
Enjoy the two day curated Local Holiday Bazaar to shop local and have gifts professionally wrapped December 17-18.
Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns
Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.
Join us December 10 & 11 for our Annual Handmade Holiday Workshop Series. We have a myriad of fun and festive programs from linoleum block wrapping paper printing and buttonhole book making workshops led by Eliza Clifford to a meditative grid workshop and Calligraphy Card Making with Anjelika Deogirikar. Join these wonderful artists and get creative this holiday season!
Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!
Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration
Experience the festival of lights!!
*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah