The routine stop for suspected speeding began calmly but suddenly escalated after a White Leesburg police officer told a Black driver he spotted flakes of marijuana in his SUV and ordered him out to perform a search, video shows.
Michael Wyche denied he had drugs, refused the search and tried to roll up his window. Officer Jon Graham grabbed him and punched him repeatedly in the face before he and another officer pulled Wyche from the vehicle and pinned him to the pavement, according to video and testimony.
Graham later testified he used force because he feared Wyche was reaching for a weapon, but he acknowledged nothing illegal was found in the SUV. Wyche, 32, of Manassas, was charged with felony assault on an officer and obstruction of justice.
The assault charge was dropped as the case proceeded. On Thursday, Loudoun County’s prosecutor moved to drop the remaining charge with prejudice — meaning it can’t be filed again — and said the case was unwarranted and could have led to the type of tragedy that sparked this summer’s nationwide protests against police killings of Black men and women. A Loudoun County Circuit Court judge approved the motion without comment at a brief hearing.
“We were concerned that the events of this case could and would fracture the trust our community has for our justice system,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj wrote in an email. “This is a case that will provide our law enforcement partners the opportunity to use to educate their members, provide additional training, and ensure that the events resulting in the death of George Floyd never occur in Loudoun County.”
It is rare for a prosecutor to issue a public rebuke to a police department in her jurisdiction. The arrest predated Biberaj, who was elected in November on a platform of holding police accountable for misconduct, along with other progressive prosecutors in neighboring jurisdictions.”