Virginia security guard Johnathan Cromwell, an employee of Citywide Protection Services, is facing first-degree murder charges for the death of Chinese immigrant Jiansheng Chen over two years ago, NBC reports.
Chen, who had gone out on the night of Jan. 26, 2017 to play Pokémon Go, was allegedly shot to death by the 23-year-old guard following a confrontation.
Cromwell was reportedly on patrol as a security guard when he confronted Chen for parking in the driveway of a clubhouse in the River Walk neighborhood in Chesapeake.
Chen’s attorney, Greg Sandler, told WTKR News
that the elderly man showed up to the clubhouse because there was a Pokémon Go gym located there.
“A gym requires you to stay put in one location so you can train your critters,” explained Sandler.
Chen’s brother said that Chen barely spoke English except for words such as “sorry” and “bye.” Sandler believes the altercation occurred due in part to a language barrier.
Court documents revealed that Cromwell stopped his own vehicle in front of Chen’s van, prompting the old man to back up and turn his van around to the entrance of the driveway facing River Walk Parkway. Cromwell then exited his car, said “stop,” then shot Chen with his weapon.
An attorney for Cromwell’s security company said the guard was forced to fire in self-defense as Chen allegedly tried to run him over with his van.
Chen’s family is suing Cromwell, Citywide Protection Services and River Walk Community Association for five million dollars in damages.
Shortly after Cromwell was arrested, the River Walk Community Association canceled its contract with Citywide Protection Services.
Cromwell, who has remained behind bars since his arrest, could spend 20 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.