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handcuffed woman shot by police

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by HABU, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. HABU

    HABU Active Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Western Washington

    At least the officers went home safe.

    Report: Dog's owner was cuffed when shot

    Saturday, July 24, 2004
    By JOHN BRANTON, Columbian staff writer

    A sheriff's investigation into the shooting of a 19-year-old woman by deputies who were firing at her dog confirms that she was handcuffed and lying on the ground just before being hit.

    The investigation, released Thursday in response to a public-records request by The Columbian, also confirms witness reports that one of the officers fired his gun at the wounded boxer-mix dog as it was running away the evening of June 26.

    But witnesses interviewed by sheriff's detectives differed on another key point, whether the dog, named Savage, was moving aggressively toward Deputies Don Slagle and John O'Mara when they first opened fire.

    Both deputies said the dog approached them aggressively. But about half of the approximately nine witnesses said the dog wasn't aggressive and appeared to be going to 19-year-old Tabitha DeSousa, its handcuffed owner, just before she was struck in the lower left leg by a bullet, the report said.

    The investigation was conducted by the sheriff's Major Crimes Unit assisted by Vancouver police Detective Jane Scott. On Friday, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jim Miller said he had reviewed the investigation and concluded there was no evidence the two deputies committed any criminal wrongdoing.

    Indeed, Miller said, encountering a man with a gun was stressful for the deputies.

    "It actually was a pretty traumatic and dangerous situation that was existing for a bit," Miller said.

    Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas said it hadn't been determined whether the deputies violated any department policies or would be disciplined.

    One officer's bullet struck DeSousa in the lower left leg, shattering a bone. DeSousa underwent surgery twice at Southwest Washington Medical Center and was released from a Vancouver rehabilitation facility July 10.

    Clark County is paying De-Sousa's "reasonable and necessary" medical bills, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Curt Wyrick said. The amount to be paid has not been revealed.

    Deputies Slagle and O'Mara remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, officials said. That is routine in such cases.

    The report released Thursday concludes that "both Deputy Slagle and O'Mara feared the dog was going to attack them and both fired their duty weapons," but it does not offer an opinion on whether the officers' actions were correct.

    The dog, which wore a pinch collar often used to control aggressive dogs, was later euthanized because of its wounds and alleged aggressive behavior the night of the shooting.

    An official from Clark County Animal Protection and Control told The Columbian she could find no previous complaints involving the animal.

    The investigative report's synopsis says the deputies arrived at a home at 5717 N.E. 45th Ave. in the Minnehaha area about 7:40 p.m. A real-estate agent who was trying to sell the home had reported seeing a handgun and drug paraphernalia inside three days earlier.

    When O'Mara arrived, he saw Michael Luther Woosley, 47, standing by a car in the yard. Another man was seen just inside the home, and O'Mara followed him. The man ran out the back door and around to the front of the home, where Slagle was standing.

    Slagle saw the man was holding a handgun and yelled for him to drop it. The man ran back into the home, dropped the gun and initially escaped. The discarded weapon, found in the home, was a Ruger P-89 9 mm semiautomatic pistol. It was loaded with 11 bullets.

    Several officers surrounded the area. An hour later, David Lloyd Kipp, 37, was apprehended a few blocks away and taken to the Clark County Jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

    Kipp later told detectives he'd come to the home to buy Woosley's car, a statement echoed by Woosley.

    Kipp gave two versions of why he had a handgun. He said he found the gun on a pile of clothing as he was cleaning out the car. He also said he went inside the home to get a drink of water and found the gun in a drawer by a sink.

    Kipp said he had asked Woosley to whom the gun belonged just before the deputies arrived.

    Kipp told detectives he fled because he thought there might be a warrant for his arrest and because he knew, as a convicted felon, he wasn't allowed to be in possession of a gun.

    Kipp was released from custody. Nearly a month after the incident, no criminal charges have been filed against Kipp for possessing the gun. The issue remains under review and a prosecutor has asked the sheriff's office for further investigation.

    Woosley, a convicted drug user, had been staying in the home, which belonged to his sister, Peggy O'Neill. O'Neill recently had sold the two-story home and had told Woosley to move out, the investigation reveals.

    DeSousa told detectives she had been visiting Woosley that evening to "get high." She said an unidentified man had just tried unsuccessfully to give her an intravenous injection of methamphetamine when the deputies arrived.

    Detectives were unable to find that man, the report says.

    As other officers were looking for Kipp, the investigation says, O'Mara went inside the home and discovered DeSousa and her dog. O'Mara told De-Sousa to shut the dog in a downstairs room and come outside, and she did.

    Slagle and O'Mara then handcuffed Woosley and De-Sousa and had them lie on their stomachs in the front yard, the report said.

    That's when the dog got loose detectives were unable to determine how and approached Slagle in the front yard.

    All witnesses agreed that DeSousa screamed, "Don't shoot my dog!" and moved just before the first shot. Descriptions of her movement differed, with various witnesses saying DeSousa kicked one leg, or rolled onto her side, or was in a partially sitting position.

    Half of the witnesses said it appeared DeSousa was trying to place herself between the deputy and her dog.

    Slagle fired his .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic twice and O'Mara fired his Beretta 9 mm three times. The bullets hit the dog and DeSousa, the report said.

    During the incident, Slagle's wife, Lisa Slagle, was sitting in his patrol car and O'Mara's daughter, Colleen, 18, was in his patrol car. The women had been participating in the department's more than 40-year-old citizen ride-along program, which allows family members and others to ride with deputies, Lucas said.

    It wasn't the first time a deputy's bullet went astray while firing at a dog.

    In February 2003, when deputies were sent to a call of a man threatening his wife with a knife in their Hazel Dell home, an officer fired a shot at a dog. The bullet struck a neighboring house occupied by a woman and her three children.

    The deputy involved said the dog had charged him and he fired a shot that hit the dog and the neighbor's living room window, according to a sheriff's office report.

    No one was injured.

    Lucas said Monday he couldn't recall the incident or whether any discipline was ordered. Typically in such cases, Lucas said, the officer would be required to undergo extra training about selecting a target and clearing the background to make sure no one could be hit.

    Lucas' policy on use of deadly force allows deputies to "use weapons to destroy severely injured animals or to defend themselves against vicious, rabid or otherwise dangerous animals."

    The Columbian filed a formal request for the investigative report after sheriff's officials took three days to say who had been shot and which deputies were responsible.

    Sheriff's officials also initially refused to confirm two witnesses' reports that DeSousa was handcuffed on the ground when she was shot.

    John Branton covers crime and law enforcement for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-759-8012, or john.branton@columbian.com.


    Previously: On June 26, two Clark County sheriff's deputies fired five shots at a woman's dog, wounding the animal and hitting the woman in the leg. An investigation by sheriff's Major Crimes Unit began.

    What's new: On Thursday, the sheriff's office released a copy of the investigative report. Prosecutor's office said Friday there was no evidence the two deputies committed any criminal wrongdoing.

    What's next: Sheriff Garry Lucas will decide on officer discipline, if any.
  2. carpettbaggerr

    carpettbaggerr Participating Member

    Nov 13, 2003
    Where'd this take place?
  3. priv8ter

    priv8ter Participating Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Poulsbo, Wa
    Close to home

    This apparently took place in Clark County, Washington. The major city there is Vancouver, which is actually a suburb of Portland, Oregon.

    Strange, I didn't see anything about this on the news up here. Things don't look to good for the officers on the scene.

    Shooting at the dog...well, it doesn't say what the Boxer was mixed with, but I find Boxer's kind of threatening. I'm not sure I have a problem with the idea of shooting at the dog.

    But, hitting the lady(woman...I'm not sure she qualifies as a lady), and then reportedly shooting at the dog as it ran away...paints a bleaker picture.

    I notice that one of the officers wives, and the others daughter were in the car as part of the Citizen-Ride-Along program. I wonder if their family being there might have hopped them up into shooting when they normally wouldn't have?

  4. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Participating Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    east Texas
    That one ought to be worth a couple hundred grand anyway. Reminds me of the video that's been run a few times by here of the female police officer that torqued one off accidentally and almost hit the suspect on the ground.
  5. pax

    pax Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    Washington state
    Shooting the dog may or may not have been necessary. I will never fault someone for shooting a mere animal that is about to harm a human being. People are more valuable than animals.

    Shooting the woman was ... bad. Very bad. And likely will be very expensive for Clark County government (meaning the taxpayers, of course).

    Just goes to underscore the terrific importance of Rule Four: "Be sure of your target, and what is behind or around your target."

    Tunnel vision happens under stress! Don't let it happen to you...

  6. Mixlesplick

    Mixlesplick Member

    Mar 13, 2004
    From what I have seen of boxers they are very protective of their owners. Whatever else can be said about the woman she sure was protective of her dog! (I feel that way about my dog too).

    I think the "reasonable and necessary" medical bills might not feel so reasonable to the woman. If she was hadcuffed and in custody "reasonable" will probably be a lot more than the police department wants to pay.
  7. Tharg

    Tharg Active Member

    Jun 17, 2003
    DFW TX
    I own boxers and breed them -

    not sure i'd ever respond as "afraid" if i saw one. A fellow breeder has a couple of boxers that are much bigger than mine... still - they are usually more circumspect in thier analysis and i've never seen one react violently.... more likely to run from a person than attack in my experience.

    Guess they CAN ...LOOK viscous tho. Then again - the fex ex guy keeps biscuits for my labs and the postal lady won't get out of her car .. <shrug>

    (you know - the HUGE black lab and the med. sized chocolate that are barking... but waggin thier tails like there is no tomorrow... rofl)

    If the dog was going to the girl.... which a good dog would... i don't see why any shots were fired - but its always easier to judge on what happened after the fact than to judge/act during the time frame in question.

  8. thefitzvh

    thefitzvh Active Member

    Oct 9, 2003
    Austin, TX
    [sarcasm]Hey guys... she was resisting, and obviously deserved it. Frickin' civilians... jeez[/sarcasm]
  9. Beren

    Beren Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 30, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I agree with Pax. (Gasp!) No fault for shooting the dog if they reasonably felt threatened by it. It's a shame, but it's a dog, not a person.

    Shooting the dog when there were handcuffed civilians in the line of fire - very, very bad.

    That the one cop brought his daughter along for a ride-along shows bad judgement, in my opinion. Why on earth would he want anyone he arrested to get a good look at his 18 year-old daughter?? It seems like a great way to get her targeted for reprisals if someone was motivated to do so.
  10. HankB

    HankB Mentor

    Mar 29, 2003
    Central Texas
    In the TX CHL class, we were taught that we are responsible for every bullet we fire. If we fire at a bad guy, miss, and hit some innocent bystander, we're in deep trouble - most likely we'll face criminal charges as well as the almost inevitable civil suit.

    So . . . do police officers have a lesser standard? Does the officer who shot the woman and inflicted a crippling injury face criminal charges as I would?

    Or, since he has a badge, is he above the law?
  11. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Participating Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    east Texas
    I heard the same thing, the instructor basically stated that no matter how righteous the shooting was, if a bolt of lightning came out of the sky and struck the bullet as it left the gun redirecting it into a bystander, you'd be on the hook criminally.

    Frankly, I suspect they're overstating the case. I also doubt if there's a special "police exemption" for reckless discharge or negligent homicide, but that would vary by state.

    Obviously the degree to which a person is being threatened would shape whether or not a discharge is "reckless" or a homicide "negligent". Shooting at a terrorist that is firing a bazooka at you or someone else on a school playground and accidentally killing a child might very well not be 'negligent homicide' when shooting at a charging dog might be.

    Personally, I don't think you should use a firearm on any dog smaller than a great bernard if there is the remotest possibility that the bullet might go awry, particularly if you're also armed with an asp or PR24. I also think a lot of police departments would be well served to spend the extra time and $$ and get some real quality training time for all their officers becoming very familiar with handling aggressive dogs, as likely as they are to come in contact with them.
  12. jason10mm

    jason10mm Member

    Aug 5, 2003
    Savannah, Georgia
    you guys are missing the most important points in the article!

    A) the bad guy only had 11 rounds in his gun, so according to the Dimocrats, he was no threat to anyone!!

    B) One cop had a 1911 and didn't kill anything, how is this possible? You can miss with that sweet SA trigger, but a .45 bullet should have killed anyhting it touched, right??

    Ok, ok, it has been a long day at work and I'm feeling alittle goofy :p
  13. JPL

    JPL Participating Member

    Apr 3, 2004
    Sounds like the wrong mad dog was euthanized.
  14. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Senior Elder

    Dec 29, 2002
    Los Anchorage
    This has nothing to do with defending yourself from some dog. It has to do with responsibility for shots fired. You and I are responsible for each and every bullet, slug or roundshot that we fire. 100% responsible.

    They are not.

    It's like the line from the movie "Blade Runner." -- "If you're not cop, you're little people.":fire:
  15. EricOKC

    EricOKC New Member

    Jun 14, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I doubt there is a "police exemption" codified into law, but, if you believe there isnt one in practice, well, i'd have to question where you've been living the past few decades.
  16. TRLaye

    TRLaye New Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    San Jose, Ca
    To ericOKC's reply

    I'd have to concur. Officers can, and have, shot and killed people because they made a "furtive movement" with no weapon on them and no legal repercussions occurred.

    If an ordinary citizen were to to shoot someone and no weapon were found they would be hung high. "I thought he had a gun" just wouldn't fly even tho it has in police involved shootings.

    A little research via web seach for police accidental shootings and othe such words brings an amazing number of hits that report some really concerning police involved shootings.

    That doesn't make all of the shootings bad but way to many of them occur.

    We recently had a state officer shoot a citizen, in San Jose, in the back for making a furtive movement. The citizen was killed and he had a closed pocket knife in his pocket. If it hadn't been for other egregious errors and police related witnesses and radio traffic the shooter would probably not have been charged.

    My $.02 for what it's worth.
  17. gripper

    gripper Active Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    Nashua NH
    ANYPNE regardless of their job that shoots MY dog....if his life was not in IMMEDIATE danger;well it WILL be....:evil:
    No.I don't "put animals first"...and no;the involved citizens here most likely were not first class types. That said,I've a HUGE problem with busybodies(concerned caller)and anyone so freaking terrified that they smoke a dog AND wound the handcuffed lady....*** are they working their jobs for?I bet they to all of th DARE/Community Outreach BS,and arer in abject leg wetting fear everytime they go tto the range to re-qualify.They probably need McGruff the Crime Dog silohettes just to keep rounds on paper:neener:
    Naw,seriously,anyone of us could have an@sshole make a phone call and precipitate LEO action at our houses....My dog? Your life......
  18. gripper

    gripper Active Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    Nashua NH
    Not to flame anyone, but here's some clarification:
    I bother no one. I work my job,mind my own business. I do not lightly bring people into my house;nor do I lightly or frivolously fight. I don't bug/annoy my neighbors.I work nights;when I'm not there,Idon't wish to be bothered.
    My dogs ARE family....as I already stated,regardless of occupation/badge,whatever,If my family is menaced then as far as I 'm concerned,I'm menaced.And I'm no sheep to placidly cooperate.If someone wants to try and "take charge" of me due to a nosy @sshole,I'm not liking it. If somneone freaks at the sight or sound of a dog and shoots MY dog,paybacks are hell. And some one who wants to get me first;if they don't quite finish,I'll send them there.And no, I'm not a "bad@ass",wanna be anything. But if my space is violated and/or my loved ones(including my dogs)are at peril, I will not event pretend that whoever is the aggressor vs. me or mine is anything but a clock that Im going to stop.
    Now lighten up:neener: :neener: :neener: :neener: :neener:
  19. Mr. Kook

    Mr. Kook New Member

    Mar 14, 2004
    One way or another the cops f'd up.

    I agree, killing an animal that is not attacking you or someone else, or for the usual purposes of food and humane euthanization is downright wrong, but if the thing is attacking you, it's a different story only if the animal in question is large enough to be a threat to you.

    I haven't seen a boxer in my life that I thought was large enough to be a threat to a normal sized human being.

    Also, shooting a handcuffed suspect in the leg is an egregious error. These cops should be individually strung up for their actions.

    Cops are citizens too and should be held to the same standards as the rest of us.
  20. jefnvk

    jefnvk Senior Member

    Jun 3, 2004
    The Copper Country, Michigan
    Maybe I'm reading too far into it, but it sounds like someone is pro-awb.

    Shooting the dog, we don't know the circumstances. My guess is that the half odf the crowd that is saying the dog was a danger were the cops and their families. The other half were probably those in the house.

    As for shooting the lady, big mistake. Hope someone gets assigned to a desk job for a while.

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