The case of a Lynchburg man charged with a slew of malicious wounding and assault and battery on law enforcement crimes will go before a grand jury, a judge ruled Thursday.
Keith Edward Moss, 39, was facing a total of 23 charges from incidents during the course of several days in February 2021. Several were dropped at his preliminary hearing in Lynchburg General District Court on Thursday, leaving him with 14 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges.
Officers first encountered him after 8 p.m. Feb. 13 when responding to a call about a man standing outside the Fast Mart on 12th Street displaying a gun, according to testimony at the hearing. The clerk at the convenience store saw a taller man with the gun next to a shorter man and told officers he thought the man with the gun had been involved in an earlier robbery, though no threats were being made that night.
Responding officers said they saw someone fitting the taller man’s description soon after arriving, later found to be Moss. Moss retreated when he saw the officers and tried to hide between some dumpsters, according to testimony, but eventually approached when ordered to do so with his hands in the air.
The officers then patted Moss down, finding a holster and a bottle of liquor, and placed him in handcuffs under investigative detention, according to officer testimony Thursday. Moss was threatening the officers and their families and spat in one officer’s face, after which the officer placed him under arrest for assault.
What ensued was a struggle to get the “very combative” Moss into custody, in the words of one of the four testifying LPD officers. By the time they loaded him into a police van — since getting him into a police car proved to be too difficult — he’d kicked one officer in the shin twice, headbutted and pinned another officer against the inside of the van by kicking his feet against her abdomen and kicked another officer in the torso.
Once taken to the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center, he continued to resist and assault corrections officers, according to testimony.
This occurred Feb. 14, two days after LPD and jail officers had a pronounced struggle with another Lynchburg inmate, Carroll Williams. Williams accused the officers of using excessive force to restrain him, which Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison investigated and determined no charges should be placed on the officers involved.
The night Moss was booked into the jail, officers said he started a scuffle by punching one in the chest, later punching another in the face and another in the arm when backup arrived and tried to subdue him. They said Moss had continuously threatened them, flooded his cell and at one point started punching a cell light.
The following day, after threatening to kill officers throughout the night, Moss spat in a corrections officer’s face twice, the officer testified. While two different officers were escorting him to his cell, he snatched one officer’s pepper spray and unsuccessfully tried to spray both officers with it. He then broke a broomstick in a utility closet with his foot and swung it at the officers, striking one in the arm four times and leaving scars, and breaking the broomstick when hitting the other officer over the head — which led to a concussion.
Yet another officer responded as backup to find Moss pushing buttons on the intake control board that could’ve released other inmates, cursing and making threats the entire time, the officer said Thursday. Moss struck him with a different broom handle, bit him and swung a coffee pot at him, missing and shattering it on the wall. His hand now bleeding, the officer tackled Moss when he slipped, after which point officers restrained him.
Maj. William Enochs, site administrator at the Lynchburg jail, heard about the trouble Moss was causing and came to talk to him Feb. 19, almost a week after his arrest. Enochs said Moss was yelling with an arm shoved outside the food tray slot into his cell and had thrown a food tray at an officer.
In an attempt to close the slot, Enochs said he approached it with his pepper spray at the ready and Moss withdrew his arm, only to dart it back out and grab Enoch’s tie, which fell off. Moss then tried to grab at his shirt again, at which point Enochs sprayed him twice with the pepper spray and Moss fell back, grabbing at his face.
Enochs said he closed the tray slot and told Moss — who was shouting that he couldn’t breathe — to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back, which he did. As soon as Enochs entered the cell to get him out to clean off the pepper spray, he said Moss sprang up and started swinging at Enochs, eventually biting and holding onto his hand.
Enochs said he fought back, hitting Moss in the face once before taking him to the ground and hitting him three times in the back of the head to try and get him to release his bite.
At least two corrections officers went to the hospital following the attacks, according to testimony. Enochs said he had to receive stitches in his hand.
Brad Lindsay, who represented Moss in court Thursday, didn’t present any evidence or argument. Retired Judge Ellen White certified all of Moss’ remaining felonies along with two misdemeanors: a drunk in public charge and obstruction of justice charge.
Moss remains in the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center without bond. The next grand jury in Lynchburg is scheduled to convene July 6.