CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police released the name of a man who was shot and killed by a trooper following a struggle in which he allegedly grabbed and refused to drop another officer's gun.
Stephen Lawrence Knight Jr., 31, of Villa Rica, Ga., was fatally shot Saturday night after allegedly stealing a police cruiser and scuffling with Bluefield Police Officer J.W. Murray and State Police Trooper J.R. Coburn.
During the scuffle, Murray called for help after Knight "gained control" of his handgun, West Virginia Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said Tuesday.
Baylous said a witness described Knight as a convicted felon who would do anything to keep from returning to prison.
"He had made statements that he would not be captured by police again," Baylous said. "If that was a possibility, he was going to do something to kill himself or cause police to kill him."
According to media reports, Knight was arrested for public indecency in 2007 in Georgia. He was arrested again in 2010 for felony violation of probation and spent time in prison, reports said.
Just before midnight Saturday, Murray and another Bluefield officer pulled over a vehicle with Knight and three other people inside.
Murray put Knight into handcuffs and placed him inside the police cruiser. But Knight was able to bring his hands from behind his back to his front and he jumped into the driver's seat and took off.
At some point, the three other people who had been with Knight fled the scene in their own vehicle.
Murray called for backup; Coburn, who was working a special detail nearby, responded. Coburn is stationed in McDowell County but was hired to watch Appalachian Power equipment.
Knight drove east on U.S. 460 when he spotted Coburn's oncoming cruiser and attempted to make a hard turn onto a side road just before he drove into a ditch.
Murray and Coburn chased the man up a hillside and attempted to subdue him.
Then there was a struggle for Murray's handgun, Baylous said.