Controversy over officer-involved shooting in Nutter Fort grows

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 5:51 PM EDT
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NUTTER FORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The controversy surrounding a man killed in an officer-involved shooting at a funeral is growing as several key questions remain unanswered.

Family and friends are still shock following Wednesday’s shooting outside Amos Carvelli Funeral Home in Nutter Fort.

The scene was packed with dozens of cop cars and funeral goers.

The mourners were in heated discussions with officers over the shooting.

Mourners told 5 News the victim was 37-year-old Jason Owens, who was wanted for allegedly violating parole. Family members said he was going to turn himself in after his father’s funeral.

There are discrepancies between eyewitness accounts and a preliminary statement from the U.S. Marshals office.

The press release says aid was rendered, but Denzil Pratt, a family friend, is one of the witnesses saying otherwise.

“The bad part was he was still alive when he hit the ground. He was breathing, and nobody tried to save him -- nobody, not a cop, not one of them. They covered him up with a sheet,” said Pratt.

Evelyn O’Dell, Owens aunt, says she was hugging him just before he was shot.

Ashley Carroll is another friend and witness who has a differing account.

“They didn’t even try to revive him. They just ripped his shirt off, seen all of the bullet holes and they were done,” said Carroll.

“He’s laying there. I’m sitting there watching him take his last breath,” said O’Dell. “He’s trying to put his arm up like this, they’re taking their foot and kicking his hands down.”

Owens reportedly had prior run ins with the law, including charges of fleeing and attacking officers.

An investigation is underway by West Virginia State Troopers, one of the only agencies not on the scene at the time when shots were fired.

Perhaps the biggest controversy of all centers around whether Owens had pulled a gun on officers, prompting them to shoot him.

The Marshals Office says “preliminary information indicates” Owens drew a gun. But several witnesses are saying that’s not true.

At approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, members of the U.S. Marshals-led Mountain State Fugitive Task Force and other law enforcement agencies were involved in an officer-involved shooting during a fugitive investigation that resulted in a fatality in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Preliminary information indicates that during the arrest attempt, the subject produced a firearm. As a result, law enforcement officers discharged their firearms striking the individual. Officers immediately rendered first aid until emergency medical services arrived; however, the man succumbed to his injuries. No law enforcement officers or other persons were injured during the incident. The lead investigating agency for this incident is the West Virginia State Police.

U.S. Marshals of the Northern District of West Virginia

5 News has reached out to both the U.S. Marshals Office and State Police asking for a definitive answer.

Neither had responded as of Thursday evening.

Owens family tells 5 News they are seeking legal counsel.

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