Tony E. Singleton, 53, died on Nov. 6, 2021, after he was shot by officer Timothy Million III, who was responding to a grisly crash on Interstate 64.
The trial, which is expected to last five days, began in the Henrico Circuit Courthouse with opening statements from Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor and defense attorney Peter Baruch. Both outlined the moments before Million discharged his firearm after dispatchers notified him about the crash on the highway.
It started when two witnesses saw a Mazda flip several times before coming to a stop on the median. Taylor said the witnesses tried to help Singleton and his passenger, but Singleton refused.
Emergency dispatchers said the driver “appeared intoxicated” and had a knife in his shorts, prosecutors said.
Million was the first officer to respond. Body-worn camera footage showed him watching the damaged Mazda driving at a slow speed with three flat tires, a crushed roof and hazard lights on, according to court documents.
The defense told the panel of 14 jurors and alternates that Million, with his firearm drawn, issued commands to the two people inside the vehicle. Singleton did not obey the officer’s demands to put his arms out the window, while the passenger complied.
Million moved back from the vehicle before reholstering his firearm, at which point Singleton got out of the car unarmed and walked toward the officer.
As Singleton reached Million, his hands were still empty, prosecutors told the jury. Million then saw the knife partially hidden in the waistband, drew his weapon and fired at Singleton five times before other officers arrived.
A grand jury charged Million with voluntary manslaughter for use of deadly force.
Taylor said Monday that the commonwealth will present evidence that Million’s actions were unreasonable and the circumstances told through witnesses’ testimony or shown on body-worn camera are not justified as self-defense.
Defense attorneys said Million’s actions were within his rights as a sworn officer and that the same body-worn video will disprove the prosecution’s charges.
Million remains on paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal charge against him.
The trial is expected to resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
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