ER Group gathers to remember Cheri Moore
by Christine Bensen-Messinger, 4/19/2006
Less than a week after Eureka resident Cheri Moore was shot and killed by police, more than 50 people gathered in front of Eureka City Hall Tuesday night, with many wanting to discuss the injustice they perceive in her death.
“I think Eureka has to have a civilian review board for the police,” said Eureka resident Pam Service.
The results of an investigation where police investigate themselves does not give community residents confidence in the investigation’s results, she claimed.
“This is a perfect example of what may end up being very inappropriate action by the police,” Service said.
Deborah Harrison, who said she had been friends with Moore for the past year, said the loss of Moore was upsetting to her whole family.
“She was a sweet, outgoing, happy-go-lucky person,” Harrison said. “I did not feel threatened by her, ever.”
Moore, 48, was shot and killed Friday by Eureka police officers after brandishing a flare gun during a standoff that lasted approximately two and a half hours.
Harrison said she believes the police action was “cold-blooded,” and said there were other ways the incident could have ended, such as police using tear gas, a Taser or a tranquilizer to calm down Moore.
“To me it’s a police homicide,” she said.
“Nobody deserves to die like that,” said Anita McBride, a Eureka resident and longtime friend of Moore’s. “I’ve known Cheri for years; she was an angel. She always had the most positive things to say.”
Friends said Moore suffered from mental illness and had run out of her medicine on the day of the incident.
McBride, the mother of four, said Moore was manic-depressive and bipolar. McBride also said the shooting makes her concerned for her own safety.
“I don’t even feel safe; it makes me think, ‘What would they have done if it was me?’” she said.
Justina Vining, who had been friends with Moore for the past three and a half years, said she spent a lot of time with Moore at St. Vincent de Paul’s Free Dining Facility — a place she said police knew Moore spent time at.
“The cops knew her, we all knew her, but they didn’t come get any of us to try and get her down,” she said.
Vining, who said she is homeless and also suffers from mental illness, said she is now fearful of what could happen to her.
“If it was my son’s birthday who was dead, it might have been me who was shot,” she said through tears.
Other people, who did not know Moore, said they have the same concerns for themselves or members of their families.
Eureka resident Patricia Powell said she has a 30-year-old daughter who is autistic.
“When she’s upset, she yells at people,” Powell said. “What if that was my daughter?”
Powell said she does not know why a mental health professional was not called in to talk with Moore.
“I’m really concerned that the police force (is) not trained (to deal with mental illness),” she said. Greg Allen is chairman of the local Green Party, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a group advocating for a police review coalition. He said Friday’s incident shows why such a review board is necessary.
“It’s not rational to expect anyone to investigate themselves, their colleagues or their friends,” he said. “If you have a problem with your taxes, does the IRS ask you to do your own audit?”
Allen said a police review board made up of community residents is necessary to review incidents such as this one.
An investigation into the incident is under way by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team, which is made of local law-enforcement agencies and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.
Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager said preliminary reports from an autopsy performed on Moore’s body Monday show that she died of multiple gunshot wounds to her upper body.
It is also evident from X-rays of Moore’s body that she was shot by different weapons because different caliber bullets were seen in her body, he said.Toxicology reports are expected to be back soon, Jager said.
For now, community residents are waiting until more questions can be answered and friends continue to reminisce about someone they said made them smile.
“She would make my day,” Vining said, through tears. “She was just a blessing to a lot of people.”
“The city police just took away a very special friend of ours,” said Eureka resident Justin Harrison. “I’m very sad, hurt and crushed at what the police … did.”
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