Father of Mount Airy teen fatally shot by deputies wants further investigation -- Gazette.Net


The father of a Mount Airy teenager killed by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies serving a warrant at his home in January would like an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding his son’s death.

Joel Heilmann, the father of Daniel Vail, 19, issued a statement Tuesday through his attorney asking that the shooting be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“I would like to see a fair, independent and thorough investigation conducted into the events which lead [sic] to the death of my son,” Heilmann said in the statement.

Heilmann’s attorney, Michael Winkelman of Lanham, said Wednesday that he has sent tort claims notice letters to the state and to Frederick County, a standard legal practice that preserves Heilmann’s right to file a lawsuit in the death.

But Winkelman said that sending the letters in no way means that a lawsuit will be filed.

Because of possible pending litigation, the sheriff’s office had no comment in the case, other than that the office had forwarded the case to the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office for possible consideration of criminal charges, said spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Bailey. An internal investigation that is standard in all officer-involved shootings is still open and ongoing, she said.

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith (R) could not be reached for comment by The Gazette’s deadline Wednesday.

On Jan. 10, members of the sheriff’s office Special Service Team were asked by Howard County police to help serve a high-risk search warrant at an apartment in the 4800 block of Westwind Drive in Mount Airy, according to sheriff’s office news releases at the time of the incident.

The officers entered the home around 1 a.m. using a “flash-bang” device, and announced their presence several times before they found Vail pointing a shotgun at them in one of the bedrooms.

The sheriff’s office determined the deputies fired 18 shots at Vail, whose gun reportedly had one round in the chamber and another in the magazine.

Heilmann’s statement said he hadn’t been provided with any materials from the investigation, including the autopsy report. Winkelman said his client is simply trying to get answers in his son’s death.

“He would just like to know what happened,” Winkelman said.