Ex-security guard convicted of 2nd degree murder of Chinese grandfather

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Two years ago, a former Citywide Protection Service security guard, working for the River Walk homeowners association, shot and killed 60-year old Jiansheng Chen, while he was sitting in his minivan, playing Pokémon Go.

Last Friday, a jury convicted Jonathan Cromwell of 2nd degree murder and a weapons charge, and on Monday they jury recommended a 30-year prison sentence.

Jiansheng Chen, age 60, was shot and killed on Jan. 26, 2017. The incident occurred in the River Walk community, where Chen resided with his brother.

Readers may recall several earlier IAC posts on the shooting incident in the Riverwalk community on January 26, 2017.

 

Jury trial highlights

According to several reports, On day nine of the trial, the jury read its verdict of 2nd degree murder, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The panel of 12 jurors agreed that Cromwell showed malice when he shot Chen, but also decided that there was not enough evidence to support the Prosecutor’s charge for premeditated first degree murder.

On Monday, the jury heard testimony from Chen’s family, as well as Cromwell’s family and friends, before issuing their recommendation for a 30-year prison sentence. A judge will officially sentence Cromwell on June 24, 2019.

Jonathan Cromwell was employed by CityWide Protection Service a the time he shot Chen. His defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, claims Cromwell acted in self-defense.

The 23-year-old defendant says Chen tried to run him over with his mini-van, leading Cromwell to fire 10 shots. Five bullets hit Chen, killing him at the scene. The former security guard testified that he had barred Chen from parking his vehicle near the Riverwalk Clubhouse just 10 days before the shooting.

The HOA’s clubhouse has been closed for several years, and it
was a popular site of a Pokémon Go “gym.”

Family members told the court that Chen spoke very little English, and likely did not understand Cromwell’s commands to put his car in park.

Defense plans to appeal

Sacks called the current jury verdict biased, and says he plans to appeal, requesting to move the case to a different circuit.

Prosecutor Chesapeake Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney DJ Hansen says jury selection was fair and that the panel of 12 ruled without bias.

At trial, prosecution experts presented photo evidence of shattered glass from Chen’s minivan windshield, directly beneath the vehicle. Experts say that the position of broken glass, and the fact that Chen’s foot was found on the brake at the time he died, proves that Chen’s vehicle was not moving when he was shot.

According to testimony at trial, Cromwell had been instructed to contact police officers in the event of a dangerous situation, and not use deadly force. Other law enforcement witnesses testified that Cromwell inquired about his firing pattern.

Many of Chen’s family and supporters attended the trial, including the Organization of Chinese Americans, Eastern Virginia Chapter. Shortly after the shooting, the group organized a public protest, claiming discrimination of the Chinese immigrant.

Nine family members and friends testified on Cromwell’s behalf, and they continue to support him.

Riverwalk tragedy was preventable

In January, the Chen family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Cromwell, Citywide Protection Services, and Riverwalk Community Association (HOA).

The family seeks $5 million in damages. Chen owned a successful Mongolian restaurant up until the time of his death. He immigrated to the U.S. 28 years ago, according to reports.

The civil lawsuit claims that, although the HOA had a contract with Citywide for unarmed security guards, Cromwell and other guards carried firearms while working in the Riverwalk community.

The complaint also alleges that a previous employer let Cromwell go, after he exhibited reckless behavior with a firearm.

Also of interest, Cromwell’s, attorney, Andrew Sacks, has represented Citywide Protection Services in the case, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Riverwalk HOA likely faces several more years defending its decisions, actions, or inactions in Virginia courts.

Sources:

Jury recommends 30 years for former Chesapeake security guard convicted of murder in Pokémon Go case
POSTED 8:55 AM, MARCH 4, 2019, BY RACHAEL CARDIN, UPDATED AT 06:44PM, MARCH 4, 2019

Jury says security guard should spend 30 years in prison in Chesapeake “Pokemon Go” shooting
By Margaret Matray Staff writer, Virginia Pilot, Mar 4, 2019

Video from scene played at “Pokemon Go” shooting trial
Feb 21, 2019, Virginia Pilot

Family sues security guard accused of murdering man in Chesapeake
By: WAVY Web Staff Posted: Jan 30, 2019 11:28 AM EST Updated: Jan 31, 2019 08:13 AM EST

Virginia security guard faces sentencing in shooting death of grandfather playing Pokémon Go, Antonia Noori Farzan The Washington Post/Chicago Tribune

Former security guard found guilty of murder in ‘Pokemon Go’ Trial
By: WAVY Web Staff, Jason Marks Posted: Feb 28, 2019 10:13 AM EST
Updated: Mar 04, 2019 07:06 AM EST