In New York City, a police sergeant was called to a scene where an “emotionally disturbed person” was wielding a baseball bat. The officer fatally shot the woman in the Bronx on Tuesday after choosing to shoot his gun as opposed to utilizing his Taser.
Assistant Police Chief Larry W. Nikunen who is the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Bronx, spoke about the incident and the investigation.
“The sergeant was armed with a Taser, it was not deployed, and the reason it was not deployed will be part of the investigation and review.”
Officers had responded to the 911 call of the woman’s neighbors shortly after 6 p.m. They headed up to her apartment on the 7th floor, located in a building on Pugsley Avenue. The woman was already known to police officers due to “several incidents” that resulted in similar calls made by neighbors.
Police-involved shooting of woman in Bronx is concerning. We need a swift, thorough, transparent invesitigation. https://t.co/YIQzXyv7n9
— Tish James (@TishJames) October 19, 2016
As the sergeant, in uniform, entered the apartment at 6:15 p.m. the woman was holding scissors, says Nikunen. The officer then talked with the woman and encouraged her to put the scissors down. Nikunen continued to explain what transpired following this point.
“After putting down the scissors the female subject approached the sergeant and grabbed a baseball bat. As she attempted to strike the sergeant, he fired two shots from his service revolver, striking her in the torso.”
The woman was taken to Jacobi Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The police officer and the woman involved were not immediately identified by police authorities. At a news conference in response to the incident, Nikunen began reading his statement when a voice called out, “Black lives matter.”
Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President, has termed the shooting an “outrage” and said that the Bronx district attorney and the New York state attorney are to investigate the incident.
“While I certainly understand the hard work that our police officers undertake to keep the streets of our city safe every single day, I also know what excessive force looks like. This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun. That is totally unacceptable.”
The death of the woman on Tuesday has been compared to the shooting death of Eleanor Bumpurs, who was a mentally ill grandmother that lived in the Bronx and was shot and killed by police in 1984. The officer who fired the fatal shot at Bumpurs was acquitted of charges.
Diaz highlighted the similarities by asking, “Hasn’t anything changed over the last 32 years?” The latest fatal shooting by police was at least the 771st person this year, as The Washington Post shares.
— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) October 16, 2016
Experts state that it is these types of shootings that point out the issue involving police officers not being well trained enough to deal with, or to respond appropriately to, the mentally ill or those in an emotional crisis. Most cases that have resulted in fatal shots fired by police involved individuals with mental illnesses whose family members or bystanders at the scene called because they were worried about erratic behavior.
Only two days before the fatal Bronx shooting, police in Texas fatally shot a woman whose husband had called 911. He was seeking assistance due to her state of mental health and warned that his wife had picked up a gun. Officials say that Micah Dsheigh Jester, the woman from Austin, pointed the weapon at officers and said “Shoot me, Kill me,” and that she approached them which prompted the police officers to shoot. The woman fell to the sidewalk but not yet dead and asked that the officers shoot her again while still pointing the gun at them. Officers then fired again and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation uncovered that the weapon was merely a replica BB gun, which can appear to be real, police state.
[Feature Image by David McNew/Getty Images]