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Harrisonburg suspect had just received $8M settlement in wrongful conviction case

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A Harrisonburg shooting suspect had recently received a nearly $8 million settlement from Baltimore stemming from a 2010 incident in which members of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force planted drugs in his vehicle.

This is among the new details coming to light in the apprehension of Umar Burley, 50, of Baltimore, who is in custody on attempted murder and malicious wounding charges in connection with a shooting reported at the Motel 6 on South Main early Thursday.

The Baltimore Sun reports today that the settlement between the City of Baltimore and Burley, who had served seven years in prison in the drug case, had just been finalized three weeks ago.

According to the Sun, more than a dozen officers have been convicted in the task force scandal, and hundreds of cases brought by the officers have been dropped or vacated.

Burley, released from prison in 2017, was suffering from post-traumatic stress and had struggled in the intervening three years as he had been unable to find work.

“The only good thing about this I see is that I’m still living,” he told the paper in a Nov. 18 interview.

Back to Thursday in the Valley: officers from the Harrisonburg Police Department were dispatched to the Motel 6 at 3210 S. Main St. at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday for a gunshot wound call for service.

Witnesses to the shooting alerted police that the alleged offender left in a U-Haul truck and was traveling north on Main Street.

Officers located the truck and a pursuit ensued north onto I-81, where a Virginia State Police trooper observed the truck traveling north at the 254-mile marker in Rockingham County.

Just as the trooper pulled up to the suspect vehicle, Burley shot out the back window of the trooper’s patrol vehicle and then sped away.

A pursuit was initiated, during which time the suspect vehicle rammed several police vehicles. The suspect vehicle also sideswiped a van that was traveling on Route 11.

There was no injury reported in that crash.

The pursuit continued north on Route 11 at speeds between 60 mph and 75 mph. State Police were able to position their vehicles around the box truck and force it to a stop on the southbound shoulder in the 22000 block of Old Valley Pike in Shenandoah County.

The pursuit suspect was taken into custody without further incident and turned over to Harrisonburg Police.

A firearm was recovered by state police at the scene.

The trooper whose vehicle was shot was not injured, nor were any other officers whose vehicles were struck.

The female victim of the shooting was transported by air to the University of Virginia Medical Center, were she is reported in stable condition with serious injuries.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press