Virginia Sheriff Apologizes to Black Pastor Who Was Mistakenly Arrested After He Called Police for Help During Attack by White Family

Virginia Pastor Leon McCray

A sheriff in Virginia has apologized to a Black pastor who was mistakenly arrested after he called authorities for help during an alleged attack by a white family earlier this month.

Pastor Leon McCray was at his home on June 1 when he saw two people trying to dump a refrigerator on his property, he recounted during a church service Sunday. When McCray told them to stop, one person proceeded to verbally attack him and the other one went to get three other people.

McCray said that all five people started attacking him verbally and physically. They were “threatening to kill me… telling me that my Black life didn’t matter,” he said. That’s when he felt the need to pull his concealed firearm to save his life, he said. The group of people then left and McCray proceeded to call 9-1-1 for help.

But when authorities arrived, they didn’t ask McCray what happened, he said. They spoke to the white family of five who had just attacked him, he said.

Amanda Salyers, Donny Salyers, Dennis Salyers, Farrah Salyers, and Christopher Sharp.
Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office

“I was not given an opportunity to speak,” said McCray, adding that officers told him they had to arrest him for brandishing a gun. “And I said, what about the trespassing and the assault?”

Instead, McCray “was handcuffed in front of my assaulters” by an officer who has known him from the community for over 20 years, he said, adding “they waved at me as I go down the road… . Do you know how disturbing that is?”

It was “a day that changed my life,” the pastor said.

On Friday, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter announced that the brandishing charge against McCray would be dropped and that five people were arrested after the sheriff’s office “obtained warrants for more severe charges regarding this investigation.”

Donny Salyers, 43, Dennis Salyers, 26, Farrah Salyers, 42, Christopher Sharp, 57, and Amanda Salyers, 26, are all facing charges for hate crimes and various degrees of assault. Both Donny and Dennis Salyers are also charged with assault and battery. Sharp and Amanda Salyers are also charged with trespassing.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Nicole Acevedo

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