The former Virginia State Police officer accused of kidnapping and murder in California could cost Virginia and Washington County taxpayers millions if looming legal action proceeds and is successful.
Last year, Virginia state trooper Austin Lee Edwards, allegedly catfished a 15-year-old California girl. He then drove to California, killed her mother and two grandparents, and kidnapped her.
Edwards reportedly took his own life the same day after leading police on a chase to the Mojave Desert.
It has since been revealed that Edwards had a history of mental health issues and had even been involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility, as reported by outlets such as the AP.
Virginia State Police claim Edwards ability to get onto the force was “the direct result of human error.” A background investigator failed to check his mental health history, VSP claimed.
The 15-year-old’s family apparently isn’t buying it. They’re gearing up to sue.
The legal notice sent to Virginia officials announcing the planned lawsuit, claims that VSP “ordered” a mental health evaluation of Edwards, he failed it, and state police “deliberately buried” the results and hired him anyway,” the LA Times reported.
The LA Times, said its reporting over the past 6 months not only exposed Edwards mental health troubles, but also found that VSP did know about Edwards’ red flags for mental health.
Edwards told the Virginia State Police during his job interview that he went to a mental health facility in 2016. And he went, according to the Times, for an incident that involved him cutting himself and threatening to kill his father.
“Edwards was forbidden by the courts to possess a gun. Virginia gave him a gun, a badge, and the ability to commit these heinous murders,” said David Ring, the attorney representing the 15-year-old California girl’s teenage sister and aunt, who is now her legal guardian.
The sister and guardian are the parties that plan to sue Virginia. They are also planning to sue Washington County, which hired Edwards about two weeks before the incident after he left VSP.
The girl’s family is claiming upwards of $100 million in damages.
VSP investigates VSP
This news of the impending lawsuit comes as news also broke this week from the AP revealing that after the incident, when Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin called for a full investigation, VSP was allowed to investigate itself.
And they never produced the report, even when media outlets requested it.
In fact, the attempt to withhold the report is what led to the revelation that VSP has a sweet deal in the form of an agreement with the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) that allows state police to investigate itself in most cases.
The exception is if the case involves the superintendent or deputy superintendent of the state police. Then, the OSIG will handle it.
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