Man shot by Virginia police officer during chase says he was unarmed, shot in back

Around the South

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — For the first time, the man shot by Norfolk Police during a foot chase two weeks ago is sharing his side of the story.

The shooting happened back on May 2 off Olney Road. Officers tried to arrest 23-year-old Isaiah Swift on outstanding warrants but he ran. Police said Swift was shot after an officer saw he had a weapon and refused commands. 

However, Swift claims he was unarmed. He also told 10 On Your Side he was shot in the back while running.

Norfolk police have not revealed details of Swift’s case, saying it’s a part of the investigation by Virginia State Police. Swift had life-threatening injuries, but he’s recovering now. He wants to know why he was shot in the first place.

“I feel good to be alive. Lucky,” Swift said. 

Speaking by phone from Norfolk City Jail, Swift recalled the moment a bullet went through his body.

“I didn’t even hear the shot. I just felt pain go all through my back and I just collapsed,” Swift said. “It was about three centimeters away from getting my spine and paralyzing me for life.”

Three surgeries later, Swift is on the mend.

Norfolk police have not released where Swift was shot, but police said officers recovered a weapon at the scene. 

Swift doesn’t deny running from officers but he said the weapon wasn’t his.

“There could be a gun found anywhere around this area and police officers know that,” Swift said.

Swift admits he has a history of run-ins with police. He said he ran because he was scared.

“There’s no telling the outcome,” Swift said. “I’d rather be with my lawyer than turn myself in or be with somebody who I can trust.”

Swift’s mother, Michelle Swift, said her son wouldn’t have intentionally risked his life.

“My son, he wants to live. I know there’s no way that he’s that crazy, insane enough to point a gun at a police officer,” she said.

His mother also acknowledged her son’s criminal record, saying he’s known to officers.

“He’s not a threat and they know he wasn’t a threat,” Michelle said. “I want to ask the officer personally, what did he do so wrong that you had to shoot him? Y’all know who he is.”

The NPD officer is on paid administrative duty while Virginia State Police investigate. A VSP spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing, and their findings will be handed over to the commonwealth’s attorney when it’s complete.

A rally for Swift is planned at the courthouse Wednesday morning.


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