Virginia sheriff defends removing of things from deputy’s residence after California triple murder

A Virginia sheriff says he ordered two of his deputies to look the house of a colleague who killed three individuals in California, and insists they acted to guard the general public.

Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis additionally says he advised Riverside police, who’re main the investigation into “catfishing” police officer Austin Lee Edwards, about his deputies’ Nov. 25 search of Edwards’ residence.

The official search of the house befell on November 26, the morning after Washington County deputies have been videotaped on Edwards’ property.

Ryan Railsback, a spokesman for the Riverside Police Division, advised The Occasions that he was not conscious of any further searches past the one on November 26.

“We aren’t conscious of any motion taken at his home previous to the November 26 search,” he mentioned on Friday. “We aren’t conscious of any further searches.”

On Monday, Railsback stood by his feedback, telling The Occasions that he first realized of the Washington County search from Occasions reporters on Friday, and that he was “not conscious of any particular orders or conversations from us directing anybody” to entry Edwards’ property. earlier than the official search.

“I do not know if we have been conscious that somebody had gone to the home,” he mentioned. “It is doable within the commotion of attempting to find him or have some thought of ​​the place he is likely to be that there is likely to be communication between our individuals.”

Washington County’s warrantless search of Edwards’ property occurred whereas the deputy was nonetheless on the run in California, Andis advised The Occasions.

The replace comes days after The Occasions broke the information that two of Edwards’ co-workers on the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace have been caught on digicam. getting into Edwards’ residence in a neighboring county the day earlier than a search warrant was executed. The Occasions spoke with a witness and reviewed a brief video of the deputies eradicating a black trash bag from the property.

Andis mentioned that, after listening to in regards to the killings in California, he advised deputies to enter Edwards’ residence in Smyth County to see if there have been any victims there. He mentioned deputies entered the house by means of an open again door and that the search lasted 5 to fifteen minutes.

Andis acknowledged that the deputies didn’t receive a warrant to look the residence and located no victims on the property.

Washington County deputies didn’t take away something from Edwards’ home however did take specialist-issued tools that was sitting on the again porch, Andis mentioned. Andis mentioned nobody was in the home on the time.

“We went in underneath exigent circumstances to hopefully stop additional motion in opposition to regulation enforcement and allow them to know what was happening and what we discovered right here,” he mentioned, including that he couldn’t say precisely what time deputies searched the house.

Railsback, the Riverside spokesman, has “no motive to imagine” that Washington County’s actions have been prejudicial to Riverside’s investigation, he mentioned Monday. Eradicating departmental tools from the house can be “very cheap and acceptable for them to do,” he mentioned.

Andis confirmed that his deputies didn’t cordon off the house after looking it on the night of Nov. 25. He couldn’t say why deputies didn’t safe the house after they realized its occupant had allegedly killed three individuals and was being pursued by authorities. in California.

Andis has repeatedly declined to say whether or not he notified authorities in Smyth County earlier than the search. Smyth County deputies, performing on behalf of Riverside County, executed a Nov. 26 search warrant. The Smyth County commonwealth’s lawyer’s workplace declined to remark.

Edwards introduced himself as a 17-year-old whereas speaking with a 15-year-old lady on-line, in keeping with Riverside police. Final month, he drove throughout the nation to her residence in Riverside and killed her mom and grandparents earlier than setting the house on hearth and leaving with the lady.

Deputies tried to apprehend Edwards in San Bernardino County. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound from his service weapon after firing at a police automobile, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Division spokesman mentioned Friday. The teenage lady was bodily unhurt.

A authorized skilled based mostly in Virginia advised The Occasions that the Washington County Sheriff’s Workplace can’t declare exigent circumstances as a result of Edwards’ residence is just not in its jurisdiction.

“It looks as if that is the justification they’re giving, but when their police officer is in Washington County, then that is the bounds of their authority,” mentioned Yancey Ellis, a accomplice in Carmichael, Ellis & Brock, a legal protection agency. in Alexandria, Va.

“My understanding is that the residence was in Smyth County, not Washington County, and so if there was any warrant that referred to as for a search of Smyth County, it seems that Smyth County law enforcement officials can be those to do it,” he mentioned. mentioned “It is their jurisdiction.”

The San Bernardino Police Division didn’t say what time precisely its pursuit of Edwards ended. The Washington County search befell after darkish, in keeping with the video reviewed by The Occasions.

The 42-second video reveals two Washington County deputies close to Edwards’ residence. One held what gave the impression to be a flashlight in a single hand and a rubbish bag within the different. Each walked away from residence.

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