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Shooting At Sheetz Leads To $5M Suit

The estate of Randolph Neal Seamster Jr. has filed a $5.35 million wrongful death lawsuit in Halifax County Circuit Court alleging that Thomas Lewis, an investigator with the Halifax/South Boston Regional Narcotics and Gang Task Force, acted negligently and committed assault and battery when he fatally shot Seamster in the Riverdale Sheetz parking lot on July 2, 2008.

Halifax County Sheriff Stanley Noblin confirmed Friday he has received paperwork regarding the lawsuit.

Noblin said he received a copy of a subpoena served on Tom Lewis.

“We have turned it over to the Division of Risk Management,” Sheriff Noblin said Friday.

The Pelham, N.C., man died at the scene of the shooting as members of the Halifax, South Boston and State Police Regional Narcotics/Gang Enforcement Task Force were investigating a drug related matter, which, according to Virginia State Police Sergeant David Cooper, “resulted in attempted capital murder of one of the officers.”   

Following the shooting incident, Noblin requested the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation conduct an investigation into the officer involved in the shooting.

Facts gathered in the investigation of the shooting incident were presented to Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kim White, and a videotape of the incident was examined by investigators and shown to Seamster’s family.

Investigators Lewis, Mike McGregor and Tracy Mocarsky, along with Agent Mark Campbell were the task force officers involved in the chain of events that transpired over a period of 12 seconds and resulted in Seamster’s death.

White released the surveillance video and a report of her findings the afternoon of August 15, 2008 exonerating the officers.

Lewis, who fired the fatal shot, had been on administrative leave since the shooting occurred and was reinstated to return to work following the Commonwealth Attorney’s findings.

“The facts as established in the surveillance video and witness interviews clearly establish that the law enforcement officers were justified in their approach of Neal Seamster, who they suspected to be engaged in criminal activity,” White said.

“The tragic, unwise and unlawful choices made by Mr. Seamster thereafter left the officer with little choice but to use deadly force. That use of deadly force by the officer does not warrant any criminal charges,” the commonwealth attorney said after outlining a report of her findings during the August 15 press conference.

However, members of Seamster’s family disagreed with the use of deadly force, and following the press conference, Seamster’s aunt, Angela Meredith, told reporters the family disagreed with the report’s findings.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that Seamster’s vehicle was approached by a plain-clothed officer who didn’t identify himself as such until after Seamster started moving the car.

Then other officers approached the vehicles with their weapons drawn.

The lawsuit then claims, “Defendant Lewis ran in front of and directly into the path of Seamster’s moving vehicle with his gun drawn and jumped onto the hood as the vehicle was moving.  While he was airborne, he shot Seamster in the chest and then rolled off the hood of the vehicle.”

According to the document, no one was injured during the incident but the deceased.

The legal action seeks a judgment against the defendant in the amount of $5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

A jury trial is requested by the plaintiff.