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Willie Demetrius James, 43
Norfolk, Virginia
June 02, 2016

Agencies: Norfolk Police Department Virginia

Last updated: 7 months ago

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A man who Norfolk police said had a knife and lunged at officers was shot and killed in a home in the Tidewater Gardens neighborhood Thursday evening.

Relatives identified the man as Willie Demetrius James, 43, and disputed that description of events, saying he had no weapon.

Norfolk police spokeswoman Cpl. Melinda Wray said two officers were investigating a stolen vehicle on Chapel Street on Thursday evening when there was a disturbance at a home nearby. Wray said they entered the home and the man lunged with a knife. The man died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and the officers have been placed on administrative duty.

James, known as “Meat-Meat,” struggled with mental health issues, according to his son and his ex.

Since 2010, the mentally ill have made up about 40 percent of the 101 fatal police shootings statewide. Across the nation, according to research by The Washington Post, about a quarter of fatal police shootings are of the mentally ill.

The Virginian-Pilot sent Freedom of Information Act requests to all 120 commonwealth’s attorneys in Virginia and 50 police departments. The Pilot used that information, existing databases and news reports, to create a database of all fatal police shootings since 2010.

According to the analysis, six of the mentally ill shot and killed by police were between the ages of 17 and 20. There were 12 mentally ill shot and killed over the age of 50. All but one were men, and police say all had weapons.

Of the 40 mentally ill police shooting fatalities in Virginia, 12 happened in Hampton Roads. James was the fourth mentally ill person shot and killed by Norfolk police since 2010.