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Virginia Chief On Hot Seat After Training Death

February 02, 2011  | 

Marcus Jones began his new role as city manager of Norfolk, Va., by questioning the way Police Chief Bruce Marquis handled of the death of a recruit during defensive tactics training, reports WAVY-TV.

There have been public calls for the firing of Marquis and one council member said publicly he has lost faith in the chief. John Kohn, 40, died after the fourth day of defensive tactics training on Dec. 9.

"I have a lot of questions about the chief," said Jones, who started Tuesday. At the City Council meeting later that evening, the council members announced they would form a panel to investigate the training academy and evaluate safety measures.

Reading a prepared statement to the City Council on Tuesday, Marquis said, "I can do better as the Chief of Police," and apologized for his "failure to communicate thorough information" during the investigation of Kohn's death.

(VIDEO) View the clip of Kohn's training via WAVY-TV:

The chief initially said Kohn died in the hospital after an accidental collision in a doorway with another recruit. Then videos surfaced showing Kohn doing ground fighting training 11 minutes after the collision. The video showed Kohn on his back, taking blows to the head from an instructor who was wearing boxing gloves.

Also, additional details about Kohn's death have come to light in recent days, including the fact that he received multiple blows to the head during training.

The Virginia-Pilot has published a detailed timeline of the events leading up to Kohn's death.

Read the full report at

Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Chris keown @ 2/3/2011 6:27 PM

I'm a fellow bro. And law enforcement officer. The Chief has no integrity or character when it comes to doing the right thing it seems. Sounds like he's a lying, pathetic pos. Do you community a lot of good and get rid of him now. If someone wont do the right thing initially, they never will. It's about character and a lot of people are lacking these days. Hire yourselves a professional leader with character.

M.Conner @ 2/3/2011 8:40 PM

The Norfolk Police made a terrible mistake hiring this chief. He is not liked or respected from his fellow officers. They need to hie within which they hardly ever do. This recruit was singled out and road very hard. This as you know is how it is done to weed out the "not excepted" from the academy. A CRIME WAS COMMITED

PLW @ 2/3/2011 9:57 PM

If this chief did what they say he did he needs to be run out of town. This type of behavior is disgusting. Coupled with his abuse of his city credit card and out and out lies he better hope a USADA dosen't get hold of him and put him in a federal prison in North Dakota. I've worn a badge for three decades and it's people like this that makes me wonder what's become of our profession.

mario @ 2/4/2011 5:21 AM

While the Chief of Police is ultimatly responsible for any incident occuring in his City and made a report that was forwarded to him lets not forget the Instructor who started the incident by first stiking the blows but more imprortantly lying about the incident. In my view he is as responsible if not more responible for the entire incident and should be fired and maybe prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.

J Scott @ 2/7/2011 12:03 PM

While the Chief may have some responsibility, and certainly should be fired for untruthful misrepresentation, please explain to me, a law enforcement instructor, the benefit of an instructor, straddled atop a recruit, beating him in such a manner to render him unresponsive? While some hand-to-hand combat is certainly necessary to learn survival, what I have witnessed is this is nothing more than some sadistic instructor(s) who get their kicks out of a totally non-productive DT learning process. If the instructors defend this type of training, then why is the recruit not fighting back and defending themselves, if this is the intended training outcome for survival. I do not imagine an actual officer will just lie on the floor and take such abuse and call it training. Having the recruit engage his target… now that is more realistic and maybe the instructor needs a few licks across his head to knock some sense in to him? I hope they have charged the instructors and the Chief with gross negligence, negligent homicide and anything that may protect future recruits from such brutal and unnecessary tactics that have been masked as training. As training officers, we have a duty to instill safety, while still teaching the principles that will save officers in the heat of battle. We use hand-to-hand combat exercises, however, they are very well thought out, have exact purpose and training curriculum (researched and proven) to support the lessons being taught and safety officers in place to assure all instructors and recruits are safe, and the manner in which the training is being conducted is safe as well. I did not see any safety officers providing such measures. Again, I would question these academies practices and conduct a full investigation in to why such loose behavior is permitted by instructors.

3 @ 2/9/2011 1:36 PM

Well said J. Scott. As an instructor a recruit has got to trust you. This instructor (big tough guy that he is) betrayed that trust and beat his recruit to death. That guy is a disgrace. Maybe he would like a little time on the mat, in the ring or cage with someone who could fight back? Then we could all found out what this "man" is all about.

wolfva @ 2/10/2011 10:01 AM

WoW! So much hatred for Chief Marquis! But do ya'll know him? Because you're writing like you do. He's been the Chief in Norfolk for a while now, and was hired for his professionalism. He is not known for 'cover ups'.

About this incident. Recruit Kohn had suffered a head injury two days earlier. He did not inform the instructors. On the day of ground fighting CQB he went as far as asking another recruit to check his pupils, complaining of severe headaches. But again he did not tell the instructors, even though they asked the recruits multiple times if anyone was injured or not feeling well. He then ran head first into another recruit, started the training, and died. Ultimately, he died because he did NOT confide his injuries to the instructors out of fear he might not complete the course. City council has been responsible for covering up what happened far more then anything Marquis did, which was explain the matter as it was told to him. It's no wonder that a career politician who was hired to his position as city manager with NO search for another candidate, who got his job because he's friends with the current council, would attempt to increase his political clout on the back of a police officer.

PO PO Rob @ 2/18/2011 5:48 AM

What a croc. That officers family should be entitled to those benefits. What happened to taking care of our own. Promote that recruit to officer and help that family. If NPD doesn't help this family they will be a complete embarrassment to the badge. Wolfa, I totally agree with your assertion. The Chief did poorly in handling the PR surrounding this case which looks that Manager smells blood in the water politically. Unfortunately the responsibly must be shared by all. The recruits classmates should have stepped up, the instructor should be investigated and administration should be admonished.

halderon @ 1/15/2012 6:18 PM

The DT hit without fear of retaliation, he was "in charge". Being out of control and at the same time being in charge, is a no win situation for the recruit to be in. I saw no attempts by the recruit to protect himself. He certainly, did not feel that he had that right, and that is what makes this so wrong.

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