Chesapeake, VA – An off-duty Norfolk police officer who was charged in the fatal shooting of an armed man, who had threatened the officer’s wife and young daughters, was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter on Thursday.
A Chesapeake jury returned the not guilty verdict in the retrial of 36-year-old Norfolk Police Department (NPD) Officer Edmund “Ryan” Hoyt after just over an hour of deliberation on Oct. 27, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Officer Hoyt, a military veteran, had been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the Jan. 19, 2020 death of 42-year-old Kelvin White.
The officer was off duty when he received a call from his wife that afternoon, telling him that a man armed with a knife was threatening her and their two young daughters as they were walking to the store, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
His wife, Jessica Hoyt, later told investigators that White had stepped in front of her and her children as she was pushing a stroller down the sidewalk and that he refused to move, according to WVEC.
Jessica Hoyt testified that when she asked White to step aside, he took another step towards her and her children.
That’s when she said she warned him she was carrying a container of mace and that she wasn’t afraid to use it.
White allegedly told her that he had a knife and threatened to stab her in the face, WVEC reported.
Officer Hoyt rushed to the scene to defend his family and ultimately held White at gunpoint while ordering him to the ground, according to WVEC.
Witnesses said the off-duty cop also identified himself as a law enforcement officer during the ordeal.
Jessica Hoyt testified that White refused to get onto the ground, so her husband holstered his weapon and attempted to subdue the armed man, WVEC reported.
White pulled out a knife during the ensuing brawl, so Officer White shoved him away, drew his gun, and shot him, Jessica Hoyt told the jury.
White was hit three times and died from his wounds.
Investigators determined White, stood over six feet tall and weighed 285 pounds, had “several” sharp weapons on him at the time of the confrontation, according to WVEC.
Seven months later, prosecutors charged Officer Hoyt with voluntary manslaughter, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
He was subsequently released on bond and was placed on administrative duty by the NPD, where he remained throughout his court proceedings.
He had joined the NPD approximately one year before the off-duty shooting occurred.
Officer Hoyt’s attorney told jurors the officer was defending himself and his family from a violent attacker at the time of the incident, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
But prosecutors noted that White had a history of schizophrenia and alleged Officer Hoyt escalated the situation to “another level” when he pointed his gun at the knife-wielding suspect, according to WVEC.
White’s brother, Gerard White, said that Officer Hoyt knew how to stop his brother without using deadly force because of his training as a law enforcement officer, but that he chose to shoot him anyway.
“Mental illness is strong thing and the police department – they’re trained for those things,” Gerard White told WVEC. “So, I believe that [Officer Hoyt] came out there with intent to do what he done.”
The jury ultimately sided with Officer Hoyt.
It was the second time prosecutors had taken him to trial in connection with the fatal confrontation, WVEC reported.
A jury deliberated for approximately nine hours back in August before they reached “an impasse,” resulting in a mistrial, according to The Virginian-Pilot.