Home Newport News man files suit in 2022 officer-involved shooting in Hampton
Public Safety, Virginia

Newport News man files suit in 2022 officer-involved shooting in Hampton

Chris Graham
norfolk virginia beach
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A Black man shot multiple times by a Hampton Police officer in 2022 has failed a federal lawsuit against the officer and the City of Hampton.

The suit details how Christopher Clayton Rice, 32, of Newport News, was shot by Hampton Police officer Bryan Wilson after police had been called to the Wynne Ford car dealership on Jan. 4, 2022, to report that Rice was walking back and forth in front of the dealership holding a baseball bat.

Employees told law enforcement that Rice had not been threatening or aggressive.

Rice, according to the suit, had been at the dealership a week earlier to inquire about a black Ford Mustang, but was escorted away after giving employees an “uneasy feeling.”

According to the lawsuit, after responding to the scene and attempting to communicate with Rice, Wilson radioed in that Rice appeared to be having a mental health crisis.

No mental health professional was called to the scene, though; instead, multiple officers were called to the location and began pursuing Rice, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, around the dealership.

The situation escalated, according to the suit, when multiple officers drew their TASERs while Wilson drew his firearm, all pointing the weapons at Rice.

Sgt. Katherine Novak lunged at Rice, the suit alleges, in an attempt to take the bat, despite the fact that Rice hadn’t offered any aggression or threat to any of the officers or bystanders.

Rice responded to the sergeant’s move at him, swinging the bat with one hand and hitting her in the head.

At that point, Wilson, who was the only officer to draw his firearm, fired multiple shots, hitting Rice in the chest, arm and thigh.

“The simple fact is that Clayton Rice was having a mental health crisis. Everyone could see it. Even Officer Wilson commented on it. But they didn’t send a doctor or medical professionals. They sent law enforcement with their weapons drawn. That’s not only irresponsible, it’s a recipe for disaster,” said noted civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers, who is leading Rice’s legal team.

According to court records, Rice was charged with trespassing and assault of a law-enforcement officer, and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in both cases on Nov. 28.

The next hearing in the cases is set for Jan. 30.

Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot, in a press conference held the day of the incident, told reporters that he had reviewed body camera footage from the scene and was proud of the way Novak had been handling the situation before the suspect hit her.

Talbot said Novak was speaking calmly to the man with the bat, encouraging him to put it down, when he swung it and hit her in the head.

“She tried to encourage him to put down the baseball bat. She asked over and over again, made no threats, spoke with a relatively calm voice,” Talbot said.

“It’s a tragedy for everybody involved,” Talbot said.

Both Novak and Rice were transported from the scene with injuries.

Rice’s injuries from the shooting were life-threatening.

“Clayton Rice is lucky to be alive,” Sellers, his attorney, said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].