Woman shot herself in the head while cuffed with hands behind her back during traffic stop in suicide, police say


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48 Responses

  1. pillsy says:

    A medical examiner confirmed on Thursday that Wilson died of a suicide — but friends and family continue to doubt the official story.

    That seems like a sensible reaction.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Body cam footage that may have been able to answer any questions about the incident is unavailable. A police spokesperson said in August that a bodycam on one of the officers during the stop was knocked off the officer’s uniform “during the struggle,” WAVY reported.


  3. InMD says:

    A CDL blawg I follow had a post about this. Fortunately the story doesn’t fit into the Narrative and therefore we can go about our business as though it never happened.Report

    • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

      Do you happen to remember which one?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

          There are three stories here. The first is of the death of a 19-year-old woman while in the custody of police. The second is of how it’s conceivably possible that a woman, with no indication of suicidal ideation, cuffed behind her back, could manage to not only get her hands on a gun, itself a difficult trick, but then commit suicide by shooting herself in the mouth.

          The third story is how putative journalists could repeat this outrageous tripe with a straight face.

          I suppose a defense of the third story might be that the reporter, by amplifying, is doing his or her job by amplifying the tripe.

          But it would have been nice to have had some follow-up questions. It would have been nice to investigate how many other people in custody have suddenly decided to commit suicide when these officers were involved.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’d like to introduce the idea of strict liability for police officers.

            Someone who is in your custody dies, you’re done as a police officer.

            Doesn’t matter how, doesn’t matter the circumstances. Unless the death was entirely unpreventable. You’re not necessarily charged with anything, but you’re done. You’re out. You are barred from possessing any sort of law enforcement powers from that point forward.

            But ‘entirely unpreventable’, I mean, if a prisoner gets cancer and dies in the hospital, or if a semi crashes into your cop car, sure, you can argue for an exception. (Which you do have to argue for.) But basically any death that is even vaguely preventable by you counts, including both suicides and homicides.

            And, yes, this would also apply to prison guards.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

              We kinda talked about that idea in the Stephon Clark post.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

              The gulf between “should police have qualified immunity in theory” and “what do police actually do with qualified immunity in practice” is amazing to me.

              There have to be so very many moving parts that are complicit… the coroner, the DA, the press, the public, the judges…Report

        • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

          Thanks. (I like Greenfield, but he’s pungent enough that I prefer to have him filtered by other people recommending him.)Report

          • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

            He’s a lawyer’s lawyer which I very much appreciate. But yes, that blog is his playground with his rules. Definitely a take it as it is and don’t expect a chaser kind of place.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    If she was a gymnast, or practiced something (Yoga) that helped her maintain considerable flexibility, I could see her being able to physically do it.

    But we still have the question of why.

    We also have the issue of, when the state takes you into custody, the state is assuming responsibility for your well-being. A fact we as a society are far too dismissive of.Report

  5. Kinda weird that this has happened before…and has happened before…and has happened before…and has happened before…and has happened before.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      The coroner being in on it is another thing that strikes me as baffling.

      What do they have on these guys?Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Are we talking about two different things here?
      1) Negligence when someone does commit suicide?
      2) Possible murder?

      The first story linked in the post above (from Fredicksburg, VA) has the mother as an eyewitness who saw her suicidal son (the reason the police were called) work his hands in front of him and make a call just before he shot himself (he survived).

      So, very plausibly negligence of some sort… and certainly an unexpected turn of events… but unless the story is poorly written, also clearly not murder.

      Just trying to get a vector on the direction we’re taking all of these unrelated incidents. Are we looking for solutions to negligence or positing murder? And should we have two threads if we’re doing both?Report

      • Those links have variations between them, with the unifier being suspects in police custody, often bound, manage to kill themselves in ways that are extremely difficult to square with what we know of human anatomy.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

          That’s what led me to read the links.

          If the objective is to make a case for the proposition that once in Police custody, the prime responsibility of the entire Police organization is to keep that person safe and unharmed, then I’m with you.

          If we’re wondering how often police wantonly killing cuffed prisoners in their squad cars, then the first article is something of a confounder because he did work himself free and obtain a weapon and shoot himself in a way that would seem to be difficult given human anatomy, but clearly not impossible (in Howard’s case, anyway).Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Committing suicide in the back of a police car is actually a statistically relevant category, based on cop reporting. Why do these miscreants act this way? What are their motivations? ….Report

  6. Stillwater says:

    These cops need more training.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

      They need a workshop on how to write more believable fiction.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

        That is not the training I would recommend.

        It is, however, likely the training they will receive.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          “Take the handcuffs *OFF*. Then say that you don’t know what she did in her private life to make her wrists like that by the time that you arrested her but imply that it must have been morally questionable. You’ll have an easier time explaining why you didn’t handcuff her than explaining how she shot herself in the mouth.”Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            Correction. The training should go like this:

            “Should you shoot the suspect in the face while they’re sitting in the back of your cruiser, take the handcuffs off….”

            This generalizes to other types of questionable activities which occur in the back of seat of a cop car, too, so it’s just a good rule of thumb.Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    This is sort of what I have been getting at in various threads, where words like “tyranny” or “authoritarian” or “fascism” are used, but only ever in reference to faraway places, preferably ones we dislike.

    People in Russia seem to fall off buildings a lot, or government critics in African countries commit suicide in their jail cells, or in South America sometimes simply disappear for unexplained reasons.
    And we here in America nod and chalk it up to those places being “shithole” countries, horrible dystopias where no one enjoys our freedoms and liberty.

    Except they do!
    People in China and Russia and Zimbabwe and Iran go about their daily lives just like we do, peacefully without any more fear or sense of oppression than we do.
    In those countries rich people, government officials and their families, people who are nonpolitical or not of the wrong ethnic tribe are right now, leading happy unmolested lives just like we do.

    And by “We” I mean us white educated middle class people of the proper orientation and creed. The dystopia of our nightmares is already here, right now, except it is being experienced by people we don’t know or interact with.

    For example- Most conservatives and even a few liberals imagine that the Golden Age of America, when everything seemed to work and everyone was at peace, was the period of the late 50’s to early 60’s, after WWII but before Vietnam, after the Depression but before the campus protests and race riots.

    Except…that was the very period when Emmet Till was murdered for daring to whistle at a white woman, when it was perfectly normal for a woman to endure sexual advances by her boss and was expected to be silent, when gay men could be beaten to death with almost certain impunity.

    This is why #Metoo and BLM are so critical, to make it clear that the nation that “we” live in is not the same nation that “they” live in.Report

  8. Chip Daniels says:

    US Government operating an archipelago of secret prisons for immigrant children.

    Were this happening in some foreign place, we would be aghast.Report