Chesterfield man’s death ruled justifiable homicide

Posted at 7:10 PM, Feb 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-20 19:13:22-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Police have classified a Chesterfield man’s shooting death as a justifiable homicide.

Officers responded to a domestic disturbance on Buck Rub Drive a neighbor called 911 about an argument on May 23, 2011.

When they arrived, officers found 41-year-old Gordon T. Ragland II shot in the road. He died a short time later.

A Grand Jury heard testimony from several citizen witnesses who saw what happened in February and did not issue an indictment for the shooting death.

Police said Ragland kicked in the door at the Buck Rub Drive home, demanded his ex-girlfriends cell phone, and left.

When he was leaving, officers said he was met in the front yard by a man that lived two doors away.  And that’s when the deadly altercation began.

Neighbors described him as being drunk and belligerent that night.

Braden Abbott remembers the ordeal that took place in the neighborhood and said it wasn’t anything he ever expected would happen.

“People were calling me up asking me if it was me and my girlfriend that it happened to,” said Abbott.

Still, Abbot admitted that if he were in the same situation, he likely would have done the same thing.

“If I felt threatened, then I’d do whatever I’d have to do to protect myself and my family,” said Abbott.

CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone believes this case could have gone either way.

“This same set of facts, if you were in a different jurisdiction.  If you’re in an urban area, it might have been a completely story,” said Stone.”Keep in mind, we’re not talking about a jury finding him not guilty.  We’re talking about a Grand Jury saying we’re not every going to accuse him of this offense because there’s not probable cause which is pretty low burden.”

Stone said it comes down to the amount of evidence and the law.

“They have to look at the law in the case,” said Stone.  “And the law does say that if you have a reasonable fear of serious bodily harm or death, you can use deadly force.”

If this case went to trial, Stone says prosecutors would have had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooter committed murder.

A CBS 6 investigation, after Ragland’s death, uncovered a history of domestic disturbance involving his ex-girlfriend. Court records show he was arrested in 2008 on felony and misdemeanor charges for a domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend.