An Arlington man shot by police after he allegedly tried to ram officers with his van appears to have struck a deal with county prosecutors to avoid a trial.
Court records show that Steven Best now has a Nov. 5 plea hearing set for Arlington County Circuit Court. He’s facing a single charge of the attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, after a grand jury agreed there was enough evidence to indict him on Sept. 24.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, the county’s top prosecutor, declined to comment on the contents of Best’s plea deal, other than to confirm that there is indeed a hearing scheduled for next month. Best’s family did also not reply to a request for comment, and neither the prosecution nor the defense has filed any paperwork involving the plea as of yet.
Police claimed that Best tried to flee the scene of a May 3 traffic stop just off Columbia Pike, near the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Edgewood Street, nearly striking Officer Ryan Reese in the process. Police then opened fire on Best, and his lawyers say he was shot half a dozen times as he drove away.
Yet Best has steadfastly maintained his innocence since the incident, arguing in court filings and an online fundraiser organized by his family that he was trying to surrender when police began shooting at him.
He claimed that he only drove away out of confusion and fear for his life, and didn’t mean to attack the officers involved. Police originally charged with two counts of trying to assault the officers, subsequently reduced to one after a review by prosecutors.
Best’s attorneys claimed in court documents that surveillance video from nearby businesses would provide “exculpatory evidence” to bolster his claims of innocence, and they demanded access to video footage to help prove his case.
Court filings don’t make it clear whether they were able to successfully secure that footage, or what it showed.
Photo via GoFundMe