Sgt. Michael Baylous says 31-year-old Stephen Lawrence Knight of Villa Rica, Ga., had prior arrests in Georgia and Florida on drug and other charges.
Baylous tells media outlets that a witness told investigators Knight had said he would do whatever was possible to avoid another arrest.
Trooper J.R. Coburn fatally shot Knight on Saturday night after the man grabbed a Bluefield police officer's gun during a struggle and refused to drop the weapon.
The struggle followed a chase that began when Bluefield police arrested Knight during a traffic stop. He was handcuffed inside a police cruiser but moved his hands in front of him, climbed into the driver's seat and fled.