Deputies cleared in March officer-involved shooting

Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander has determined that no criminal charges will be brought in connection with an officer-involved shooting.

Botetourt County deputies encountered Robert Harmon Sword on March 27 on North Creek Road, Buchanan. During that contact, Sword exchanged gunfire with a deputy, who was unharmed, but Sword then fled into the heavily wooded area. After an extensive search through very rough terrain, deputies again encountered Sword in thick underbrush. He refused the deputies’ commands to show himself and surrender. During that encounter and based on Sword’s actions, deputies believed that he was about to fire a weapon at them. Sword was shot and killed; no weapon was found on or near his body.

Virginia State Police were called in that day by the Botetourt sheriff’s Office to conduct an independent investigation. The result of that investigation and the forensic analyses were presented to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to determine whether either of the two deputies who fired their weapons that day should face criminal charges.

“Based on careful review and consideration of all the evidence and the applicable law, I find that each of the deputies had a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury at the time he fired his weapon and was justified in doing so. Therefore, I find that no criminal charges are appropriate regarding either of the deputies and none will be brought,” Alexander said in a news release from his office.

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