VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- Jacqueline Ortiz-Whitaker, 20, is set to stand trial following a confrontation with a Virginia Beach police officer over a stolen car, during which her husband died.
Friday morning, a district court judge certified two felony charges against Ortiz, including assault and battery of a police officer and possession of a stolen vehicle, as well as five misdemeanor charges.
During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence, including the gruesome video of Deshaun Whitaker pointing a gun at a police officer before the officer shot and killed Whitaker.
On Dec. 1, 2022, a police officer patrolling a strip mall off Newtown Rd. spotted a stolen black Dodge sedan. The officer, who testified in court, said he followed the car as it made its way through a parking lot. He confirmed with emergency dispatch that it was stolen, and then pulled behind the car.
As the officer got out his car, Ortiz-Whitaker, Whitaker, and a third passenger got out of the Dodge. The third passenger, who wasn’t identified, walked away towards a nearby store. The officer went to detain Whitaker, but he ran away. The officer then went around the car to detain Ortiz-Whitaker. He testified that he was worried she would attempt to drive away in the stolen car.
The officer struggled to bring Ortiz-Whitaker to the ground. Body camera footage shown in court shows Ortiz-Whitaker reaching for a gun in her waistband as she in pinned to the ground. Her defense attorney argued that she was reaching for it to ensure the safety was on, but prosecutor Brandon Emory pointed to the officer’s testimony that Ortiz-Whitaker repeatedly tried to raise her arm to point the gun.
As the struggle ensued, Whitaker reappeared, pointing a gun at the officer. The officer fired several shots, killing Whitaker.
Portions of Ortiz-Whitaker’s interview the day of the incident played during the hearing. Ortiz-Whitaker shared that she’d been staying at the Ocean View Inn in Norfolk with her husband and girlfriend for several days. She also revealed that the couple had been using the stolen vehicle at least since Thanksgiving Day.
Her public defender, Matthew Cramer, moved to strike the stolen vehicle charge, citing case law that showed “no evidence that she was anything other than a passenger.”
Emory argued that the law recognizes the married couple as a family unit, and that she shared in the criminal intent, knowing that it was stolen.
A trial is set for May 3. If convicted, the two felony charges each come with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Ortiz-Whitaker will also face five misdemeanor charges, certified as ancillary to the felonies.