TS - 04/20/2006 Police remain tight-lipped on shooting

Police remain tight-lipped on shooting
John Driscoll The Times-Standard: 04/20/2006

Officials are remaining tight-lipped as an investigation into the fatal police shooting of Eureka resident Cheri Lyn Moore proceeds, and as people and experts continue to ask questions about the incident.
Eureka Police Chief Dave Douglas sent out a brief e-mail Wednesday in response to numerous questions.

”There is no new information released to us at this time from the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team,” the statement said. “At this time they are still investigating and interviewing people involved.”

The inquiry is being conducted by the Critical Incident Response Team, made up of investigators from the Humboldt County District Attorney's, Coroner's and Sheriff's offices and the state Department of Justice.

”We continue to ask the community for patience and understanding and for anyone with any information to please contact my office,” wrote District Attorney Paul Gallegos in an e-mail.

Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager said that the results of an autopsy on Moore performed in Redding are not in yet. Jager has said he may call for an inquest on the matter, which would have a jury determine whether a shooting was justified. He said he believes information may show that it was, but that questions remain about why SWAT team members stormed the apartment when they did.

The 48-year-old woman had a flare gun in her possession and was shot multiple times by SWAT officers Friday after a two-hour standoff. Agitated and reportedly depressed, Moore blared loud music and threw objects out of her 516 G St. apartment window as police cordoned off the area.

A bedridden man was reportedly in the same building, and authorities may have feared the flare gun might start a fire.

A police statement on Saturday said that a decision was made to send in the SWAT team if Moore put down her weapon and police knew her location in the apartment.

A former commanding officer of the Massachusetts State Police Ballistics Section, Ronald R. Scott, said a number of questions should be answered. Scott spent 25 years with the Massachusetts State Police, much of that investigating shootings and police-related shootings.

Scott said police are often confronted with weapons that they may be unfamiliar with.

”When people point a gun at the police officer it's a fairly quick decision they have to make,” Scott said from his Phoenix, Ariz., office.

Scott said it's possible that a flare -- which burns at 1,100 degrees and can travel 500 feet or more -- could cause serious damage to a person, especially if it hit an artery or sensitive region of the body.

But he added that if police knew that Moore had a history of mental illness and knew what type of weapon she had, and knew that she had no hostage, it appears police may have acted hastily. An investigation should reveal whether other tactics, like using professional negotiators to defuse the situation or tear gas or a police dog to subdue Moore, were thoroughly considered, Scott said.

”What other steps did they take first before they chose the ultimate step of using deadly force?” Scott asked.

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