Richmond law firm to investigate the day a high school student and his stepdad were killed outside graduation

Posted at 11:26 AM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-03 17:38:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond law firm Sands Anderson will conduct a third-party investigation, separate from the Richmond Police Department investigation, into the fatal June shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond.

The Richmond School Board selected Sands Anderson to conduct that investigation at its Monday night meeting.

Huguenot High School graduate Shawn Jackson and his stepfather were shot and killed following graduation ceremonies outside the Altria Theater in June 2023.

The investigation, which is expected to cost around $22,000, will report all findings to the Richmond School Board from every part of that graduation day.

It will include written statements from all staff members present and include a breakdown of the school district's homebound process and procedure.

Jackson was on homebound services at the time and not physically attending school at Huguenot.

Board members said the investigation was a way for them to evaluate and possibly change existing procedures.

According to a September 2022 email obtained by CBS 6, a school employee wrote part of the reason why Jackson was on homebound services was due to "the threat of neighborhood violence stemming from his association with another student that was involved in a crime."

According to a search warrant affidavit filed in Richmond Circuit Court, police said the Graduation Day shooting was carried out over an "ongoing feud that Shawn Jackson had with several individuals" tied to a shooting in 2020 in which a person was killed by "associates of Jackson."

At the time of the graduation, an RPS spokesperson said there were "no reported safety concerns" associated with Jackson's attendance.

A spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools said a threat assessment was not conducted before Jackson was approved to attend graduation in person because "there were no reported safety concerns at that time."

CBS 6 obtained Richmond Public Schools' internal investigation into the shooting, which showed that a school faculty member, acting as the designee of Huguenot's principal, was the one to approve Jackson's participation.

But RPS' review also found that the "district does not currently have a consistent approach to assessing whether students should attend graduation in person" and needs a "clearer and more rigorous protocol to make these decisions going forward."

Amari Pollard, 19, was arrested and indicted on a first-degree murder charge in Jackson's death, meaning prosecutors believe the killing was premeditated.

Pollard's trial was scheduled to begin in February 2024.

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