by: Vicki Sullivan
Dear Mr. Boyles,
It seems as if I constantly hear and read news stories coming out of the city of Charlottesville over the last year—and that may not be a good thing. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and a 24-hour news cycle, we all get to see what’s going on in the city of Charlottesville, in an abundance of detail. I wanted to bring my concerns to your attention, since you are the City Manager of Charlottesville.
In December 2020, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office prosecuted a young police officer, Jeffrey Jaeger, for battery in the Charlottesville General District Court. Multiple sources have reported that prior to the trial, the Presiding Judge recused himself, leading to another judge being assigned at the last minute. According to an article by Rob Schilling, “During Jaeger’s trial, the substitute judge was subjected to over a dozen verified mis-statements and contradictions from the State’s only witness, Henderson himself. Henderson’s credibility was further impeached on cross-examination, when he admitted to lying whenever he saw fit, and that he was a multiple-time convicted felon of crimes of moral turpitude, including burglary and thievery.” https://www.schillingshow.com/2021/08/09/under-the-bus charlottesville-police-department-officer-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-wokeness/
With the nation reading headlines about the city of Charlottesville’s local police department unraveling, the Virginia Police Benevolent Association published survey results illustrating a lack of confidence in Police Chief RaShall Brackney by Charlottesville’s rank-and-file, including low morale, depressed officers, and skyrocketing crime. Add to this the city’s refusal to release Officer Jaeger’s body camera footage from the incident, the sudden retirement announcement by then Captain Mooney, quickly followed by the city firing then-Chief Brackney, and Mooney suddenly promoted to acting chief—and this all starts to smell bad.
Many people have been paying attention to this politically motivated wrongful conviction of a peace officer who was just doing his job. Now-Chief Mooney’s own words seem to suggest some coordinated effort to rewrite the facts of this case to placate activists within the community. In the criminal complaint against Jaeger, Mooney swore that Jaeger was never interviewed, but then also described the interview Jaeger gave to Sgt. Bradley Pleasants. He also explained that Chief Brackney never reviewed the use of force investigation packet—despite this being mandated by CPD policy. One has to wonder if perjury charges might follow him based on the arrest warrant he issued.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, represented by Joe Platania, has a duty to all citizens of Charlottesville, including the officers sworn to protect them. This office must remain independent to view situations through an unbiased lens, with the ability to apply the laws fairly to all cases, protecting citizens and the government alike. This current prosecution could be interpreted as a colluded effort between city agencies, where the facts don’t support the case and “equity agreements” dictate misguided prosecutions.
Officer Jaeger’s conviction and subsequent termination have resulted in increased crime in the city of Charlottesville. Officers now fear retaliatory discipline from their chief, as is proven by the most recent survey by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association. These officers now forgo proactive policing and do the bare minimum when responding to calls for service, as a career survival tactic. The ongoing persecution of Officer Jaeger under false pretenses only harms true police reform efforts. True reform comes from productive dialogue and positive change, not from finding a scapegoat to blame.
Many thousands of people across this great country are watching this case and are hopeful that the city will do the right thing. Considering the damning information that has come to light over the past year, I believe the only action the city and Commonwealth Attorney’s Office should take is to drop the charges against Officer Jaeger at his next court hearing. This action would open the door to rebuilding trust with Charlottesville P.D.’s rank and file, elected officials, and all the citizens they are supposed to protect. In short, this college-educated Army veteran should not be made a pawn in a larger political game. You have the opportunity to correct this gross mis-justice, and I hope you will make the right choice.