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Richmond announces new policy to name officers indicted on excessive use of force

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 10:11:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin announced a new policy Friday that would publicly release the names of officers indicted for a crime based upon abuse of authority or excessive use of force while on duty.

"The Richmond community wants to be assured that law enforcement officers do not receive special treatment and that our office and the criminal justice system will treat non-officers and officers equally," said McEachin.

Richmond's top prosecutor said the new policy was made in an effort of transparency and accountability.

"While it has never been this office's policy to apply a double standard to the actions of police officers, some members of the Richmond community believe that a badge acts sometimes as a shield against equal justice under the law," said McEachin. "This idea undermines the credibility and legitimacy of our justice system which rests upon the principle of law equal treatment of all people before the law."

She said since 2016, her office has reviewed the actions of 53 officers for potential crimes and only four made it to the grand jury stage for allegations of excessive force.

Two of those cases have led to indictments.

McEachin said one of the cases was nolle prossed this past June when the complainant did not show up for court. She said the second case was set to go to trial in August 2020.

CBS 6 first reported Friday at 6 p.m. it had found a case set for trial next month involving a police officer that is likely the one McEachin was referring to. McEachin would not share any additional details about the case or the officer’s name during the news conference or when asked about it afterwards by CBS 6, stating the naming policy only applies to new cases.

The case in question involves Lance Falkena, 39, who the Richmond Police Department have confirmed is a member of their department.

Falkena was indicted indicted by a grand jury on March 2, 2020 for misdemeanor assault and battery for an incident that happened on December 8, 2019 at the Southern Railway Taphouse in Shockoe Slip.

Court records indicated and Crime Insider sources said the alleged crime took place when the officer was working off-duty.

RPD said Falkena is currently on administrative assignment.

CBS 6 has reached out to the attorney listed for Falkena in court documents and are waiting to hear back.

Falkena’s trial is scheduled for August 10, 2020.