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Woman fatally shot herself through mouth while handcuffed during traffic stop, Virginia police say

Family and friends doubt official story

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Police in Virginia say a 19-year-old woman fatally shot herself through the mouth while her hands were cuffed behind her back during a traffic stop last year.

Medical examiners confirmed Thursday that Sarah Wilson died by suicide on July 25, 2018, but family and friends continue to doubt the official story.

Wilson was riding in a car driven by her boyfriend, 27-year-old Holden Medlin, when they were stopped just before 4:30 p.m. by two officers who were surveilling them, police said. The officers said they approached Wilson and Medlin separately, and while one cuffed Wilson's hands behind her back, the other tried to detain Medlin.

Medlin resisted arrest, became combative and tried to flee, the officers said. Wilson was left handcuffed outside the passenger side of the car as the officer who detained her went to help with Medlin's arrest, according to police. They reportedly subdued him using a Taser.

Officer Leo Kosinski said that while Wilson was handcuffed with her arms behind her back, she was able to get a gun from inside the vehicle, contort her body and shoot herself through the mouth.

The Chesapeake Police Department launched an investigation into Wilson's alleged suicide in July. Kosinski told WAVY that the investigation had been concluded, but declined to comment on its outcome.

Sarah Wilson's mother, Dawn Wilson, believes there is more to the story.

“In all of her life I have never known of her to shoot a gun, own a gun, or even hold a gun,” Dawn Wilson told WVEC in July. "I'm not pointing fingers. I don't know what happened. I wasn't there, but I need to know, and I think that’s fair. I'm her mom."

Kosinski told WVEC in August that the officer who pulled Medlin from the vehicle was the only one wearing a body cam, but during the struggle to subdue him, the cam "gets knocked off, hits the ground, goes offline.”

Medlin was arrested after police said he swallowed a "golf-ball" sized bag with an unknown substance in it during the traffic stop. Police searched the car and found oxycodone, a syringe, drug paraphernalia, a rifle, and several boxes of ammunition, according to court documents.

Medlin was charged with possession of drugs, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a firearm with a schedule I or II drug, fleeing from a law enforcement officer, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charges were certified by a grand jury in court on March 12.

Watch WVEC's August report below:


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