Alexandria police yesterday cleared of any wrongdoing the two officers who shot and killed Lewis Barber, a 48-year-old carpenter who abducted his son at gunpoint in April.
"It was Mr. Barber's actions and his alone that placed the officers in the position of using deadly force," police said yesterday in a statement. The results of the months-long investigation were presented last night to the city's Human Rights Commission.
Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel's criminal investigation also cleared both officers in June.
Speaking before the commission last night, Police Chief Charles E. Samarra said he had met with Barber's parents and many of Barber's friends who have asked pointed questions about what happened April 27.
"Lew Barber was a good man, a good friend and a good father," Samarra said. "But that's not why we're here tonight. We're here only to make a presentation about the facts of his death."
The critical time they looked at, investigators said, was just six seconds. At 4:29 p.m., after holding police at bay for 20 hours, Barber came out of his house with a loaded gun. Barber's actions alone in those few seconds forced the hands of the two officers -- 22- and 18-year veterans of the force, investigators said.
Barber's friends and family, however, raised questions about how police handled the hostage situation. Barber's mother, Francene, who was sitting in a trailer just down the street from her son during the crisis but was not allowed to speak to him, said the mood changed about 3 that afternoon. "It was almost like someone had said, 'Hurry up and get this over with. I have a dinner date,' " she said.
Last night, investigators showed a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation that chronicled the days before the shooting -- when Barber's wife, Robin, moved out, took their 9-year-old son, Philip, and obtained a protective order to keep Barber away from them.
On April 26, Barber showed up outside Robin Barber's workplace in Old Town, took Philip at gunpoint and drove to his Wyatt Avenue home in Del Ray.
Investigators said that, although negotiators tried for hours to get Barber to communicate, Barber was, for the most part, unresponsive. During the night, investigators said, they had only one conversation. He said only two things: "I'm angry with my wife, and I'm not going to lose my son."
The Human Rights Commission, which meets quarterly to review police complaints, particularly those involving excessive use of force, harassment or demeaning language, will issue its own report on Barber's death and police actions to the City Council in the coming weeks.