Man shot dead refused to drop gun, police say
By Mark Bowes
October 7, 2009
A Pagans Motorcycle Club member was fatally shot by police trying to serve a search warrant at his home after he refused an order to drop a shotgun he held as state and federal officers entered, state police said today.
After announcing their presence, the officers were confronted by James M. Hicks Jr., 45, who was armed with a shotgun, state police Sgt. Thomas Molnar said this afternoon.
He was then shot multiple times after being ordered to drop the weapon and he refused to do so, Molnar said. He died of a gunshot wound to his torso, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
Molnar said the officer who fired the shot was a member of the Virginia State Police tactical team. The officers had to forcibly enter the home about 6 a.m. after no one answered the door, Molnar said.
The police account of yesterday’s events conflicts with a statement issued earlier today by Hicks’ attorney, who said Hicks was armed but he did not brandish, point or fire his gun as the officers entered. A family member who refused to be identified said today that Hicks was armed because he believed someone was trying to break into his house.
Defense attorney John Rockecharlie, who was representing James M. Hicks Jr. on a felony drug charge in Chesterfield County, also said federal agents didn’t find any contraband during a search of his home in the 10000 block of Halifax Road in northern Dinwiddie County.
Rockecharlie said he was advised of that information by a “reliable source” he declined to identify. Since yesterday’s shooting, Rockecharlie said he’s been in contact with Hicks’ family, including his wife, who was inside the house when her husband was shot.
“His family and friends are devastated by the events of yesterday morning,“ Rockecharlie said in a prepared statement after being contacted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “They are at a loss to understand why the police handled the situation in such a manner. James did not fire, point or brandish a firearm at any officer.
“In the chaos that was created by the police smashing down the door to his home, James was taken from his loved ones,“ the attorney added. “We hope the authorities look closely at the actions of the police officers involved.“
The attorney said he didn’t know whether yesterday’s raid by state police and agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had anything to do with Hicks’ arrest in July on drug and gun charges in Chesterfield.
A felony charge of possession of methamphetamine was certified against Hicks last month to a Chesterfield Circuit Court grand jury.
According to court documents and information provided by Rockecharlie, Hicks was arrested July 11 after a state trooper stopped him on northbound Interstate 95 near the state Route 10 exit in Chesterfield.
Hicks was riding his 1999 Harley-Davidson motorcycle and was wearing Pagans paraphernalia at the time, including a jacket with the club’s emblem on the back. He was stopped for wearing a non-approved helmet while riding his bike.
“He looked like he was right out of the Sons of Anarchy,“ said Rockecharlie, referring to a popular cable television series that chronicles the lives of an outlaw motorcycle gang.
According to court records, Hicks cooperated with the trooper who stopped him and told the officer “everything he had on him.“ That included a .357-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in his motorcycle saddle bag, along with 0.068 grams of powdered methamphetamine, 3.8 grams of marijuana and four tabs of a pharmaceutical drug that Rockecharlie said he had a prescription for. Those pills contained hydrocodone and dihydrocodeine, according to a state laboratory report included in court records.
At a court hearing Sept. 18, Hicks was convicted of a reduced count of possession of drug paraphernalia for the marijuana offense and a concealed weapon charge was withdrawn by prosecutors. Hicks waived his preliminary hearing on the felony drug charge and it was certified by a judge to circuit court. A grand jury was to have considered an indictment on that charge in November.
Citing the search warrant that had been sealed by a federal court, state police and ATF officials have declined to provide details about their case, the nature of the search warrant they were serving or the circumstances that preceded the shooting. Authorities today said they may release additional information.
Court records list Hicks’ occupation as a mechanic/welder. On a financial disclosure form filed with his arrest papers, Hicks wrote that he had been employed eight years with Truck Service of Virginia in Disputanta. A company spokeswoman today confirmed Hicks’ employment and described him as a reliable, hard-working employee.