University of Virginia President Jim Ryan, Rector Robert Hardie and other University officials on Friday announced a delay in the release of final reports from the external review of the Nov. 13, 2022, shooting on UVA Grounds, citing concern about the potential impact a release could have on the pending criminal trial of the accused.
“Since we received the reports from the external review in October, a team of University leaders has worked to assess and learn from the reports and evaluate when to share information from the reports publicly,” Ryan said. “After conferring with counselors and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley, we have decided that we need to wait until after the criminal proceedings to release further information. Making the reports public at this time, or even releasing a summary of their findings and recommendations, could have an impact on the criminal trial of the accused, either by disrupting the case being prepared by the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, or by interfering with the defendant’s right to a fair trial before an impartial jury.
“Accordingly,” Ryan continued, “we need to postpone our release of a final report from the external review until that process has concluded. We recognize that many people, including the families of those who were killed or injured that night, are awaiting more information as they continue to grieve and recover from the incalculable loss they experienced. We are committed to providing it as soon as we can be sure that doing so will not interfere in any way with the criminal proceeding.”
Hingeley is leading the prosecution of Christopher Jones, who faces 13 indictments for the shooting that took the lives of UVA student-athletes Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry. All were members of the Virginia football team and were on a bus that had returned to UVA from a class field trip to Washington. Fellow students Marlee Morgan and Michael Hollins, another member of the football team, were injured in the shooting.
“I am grateful to President Ryan, Rector Hardie, and their teams for their consideration as we continue to prosecute this important case,” Hingeley said. “The reports in question are subject to attorney-client privilege between the University and the attorney general and I have not seen them. With that being said, I appreciate the University’s efforts to avoid taking any action that could complicate the prosecution of the accused, Christopher Jones, or impair his right to a fair and impartial trial.”
In the days following the shooting, Ryan and then-Rector Whitt Clement asked Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to appoint counsel to conduct an external review into the circumstances that led to the shooting, as well as the University’s response in the immediate aftermath. The attorney general appointed the law firm Quinn Emanuel to evaluate the circumstances leading up to the shooting and the University’s threat-assessment process, and tasked former United States Attorney Zachary Terwilliger with a review of the University’s emergency and law enforcement response once the shooting had taken place.
The results of the external review were provided to the Board of Visitors and University leaders on Oct. 20 in the form of two reports. The counselors provided unredacted versions of their reports, as well as versions redacted to comply with federal privacy laws. The University will release a final redacted report from the external review once the criminal proceedings have concluded.
“Over the past year, the Board of Visitors has kept a close eye on the University’s response to the tragedy of Nov. 13, 2022, and on the external review into the events surrounding the shooting,” Hardie said. “We agree that we should postpone the release of further information until the criminal prosecution is complete to avoid interfering with or complicating the proceedings. This delay does not mean we are standing still. The University has taken many steps since Nov. 13, 2022, to support the healing of this community and to make sure our policies, practices, and procedures are aligned with our goal of keeping our Grounds safe.”
Over the past 12 months, the University has made many changes to better identify and mitigate public safety threats and to enhance the institution’s response in the event of an emergency, including:
- Expanding the full-time, dedicated resources and capacity of the UVA Threat Assessment Team.
- Revising policy to require immediate notice to University Police Department of a firearm on Grounds. Results of a UPD review will be reported to the assessment team within 24 hours.
- Instituting new guidance on reporting to the assessment team or police matters deemed to have a potential risk of violence.
- Adjusting case-management practices to strengthen UVA’s ability to triage student cases more efficiently and comprehensively.
- Revising policies and procedures related to sharing sensitive information between units that provide services to students in need, public safety units and other university officials.
- Automatically enrolling students, faculty and staff in UVA Alerts text messages so all community members receive timely information in an emergency.
- Adding staffing for mental health counseling and psychiatric services for faculty, staff and students, including telehealth services and in-person staff.
- Improving and expanding telehealth therapy options for those affected by violent acts through UVA Student Health and Wellness in partnership with TimelyCare.
- Broadening leave-of-absence policies to provide more flexibility on course enrollment and actions for students who are victims of violent crime.
- Expanding mental health outreach efforts through efforts of Student Health and Wellness.
- Creating the Judicial Affairs unit to manage issues related to student conduct adjudication, including interim suspensions, arrest disclosures, hazing investigations and Title IX appeals.
- Forming a new Community Safety Working Group with Charlottesville and Albemarle County to identify gun violence reduction solutions, leverage resources and services.
University Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis, who oversees the University’s Division of Safety and Security, concluded: “Our No. 1 priority is caring for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Over the past 12 months, as we have fully cooperated with the external review, we have also made a number of important changes to our public-safety policies and practices in response to what we learned in the wake of the shootings. As we continue to evaluate the recommendations, we will continue to apply the things we learn to our ongoing efforts to keep this community safe.”