Once Again: NEVER Call the Police for “Help”

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Linda Hicks, a 62-year-old Toledo resident, was murdered by Officer Diane Chandler of the Toledo Police Department. “Murder” is the only suitable description for the entirely needless shooting death of Hicks,  a group home resident who suffered from schizophrenia, depression, and hypertension.

Someone at the domicile made the fatal mistake of calling the police to report that Hicks had a “weapon” — a pair of sewing scissors.

When Chandler and Officer Rebecca Kenney arrived, Hicks was prone on her bed. When she refused to remove her arms from beneath a pillow, Chandler attempted to induce “pain compliance” by shooting the woman with her Taser, but the cartridge malfunctioned. Chandler then pressed the electro-shock torture device directly against Hicks’s skin to operate it in “drive-stun mode.”

Not surprisingly, this assault enraged Hicks, who reportedly got off the bed and said, “I’m going to kill you or you’re going to have to kill me.” Chandler then fired her gun at least four times, killing Hicks.

There are two elements of this story that deserve special attention. The first was the exculpatory comment by Chief of Police Michael Navarre that Chandler, like the rest of his force, is under a lot of stress because of recent lay-offs.

“It’s a difficult job out there,” Navarre told the Toledo Free Press. “Officers are being stretched to the limit.” The lay-offs supposedly have made criminals more “brazen,” he insists.

That assessment implicitly suggests that the stressed-out police are going to be more “brazen” in the use of lethal force.

More noteworthy still is the fact that Diane Chandler is “certified with crisis intervention training,” which should provide her with some means other than lethal force to handle a mentally ill senior citizen armed with sewing scissors.

“[Chandler] thought her life was in danger,” insisted Chief Navarre by way of justifying the shooting. Really?

Since Chandler could get close enough to Hicks to operate the Taser in “drive-stun mode,” couldn’t she and her partner have immobilized the woman long enough to take the scissors away? Weren’t there objects in the room — furniture, blankets, pillows — that could have been suitable to offer a shield against a pair of sewing scissors? Aren’t police given unarmed “combatives” training, and supposedly paid to take a few risks?

None of that matters, apparently. Linda Hicks is dead, Diane Chandler killed her, and within a few weeks we’ll all but certainly be told that Chandler’s actions were in accordance with “department policy.”

Once again: Unless you’re willing to see someone be severely injured or killed for no defensible reason, never call the police for “help.”

12:26 pm on December 16, 2009