December 16, 2009

Taser Death: Linda Hicks (Toledo OH)

Toledo police officers Rebecca Kenney, 34, and Diane Chandler, 33, shot 62-year old Linda Hicks four times, twice in the head, with their taser gun. [SOURCE]

The taser gun was used in 'drive stun' mode. The taser, fired by Officer Chandler misfired, the barbs didn't shoot out, so Officer Chandler connected her taser directly to Linda Hicks ... this type of contact is known as 'drive stun' ... driving the taser gun into physical contact with the intended subject.

Linda Hicks died immediately.

One would think that this elderly woman must have been robbing a bank or running away from a bicycle traffic stop or something truly evil. One would be wrong. Linda Hicks was a mentally-ill woman laying down in bed when the police arrived. Now she's dead.

The woman who cares for mentally ill people in her home, Tanya Murphy, called 911 earlier in the evening when Mrs. Hicks became agitated. Murphy told the 911 operator that Ms. Hicks had a history of schizophrenia and was not taking her medication. Ms. Murphy had difficulty discussing the incident yesterday and would only say: "She came at me with the scissors."

Gloria Wright, who went to school with Ms. Hicks, said she believed the woman could have been subdued without lethal force. "They could have shut the door," she said. "They could have shot her in the leg."

Toledo police chief Mike Navarre shared the following description of the taser-related killing:

"They were told basically that this Linda Hicks had not been taking her medication, had been threatening people, was acting up, was agitated, and, we are told, she had this pair of scissors in her hand that she was threatening people with, so they went upstairs," the chief said.

"The bedroom door was shut; they knocked; they opened the door; Linda Hicks was laying on the bed; she had her hands under a pillow - appeared that she may have something in her hands."
Ms. Hicks refused to comply when the two female officers ordered her to show her hands. They then tried to subdue Ms. Hicks with a Taser.

The chief said Ms. Hicks then got up from the bed with the scissors in her left hand, became very agitated, and told the officers, "'I'm going to kill you or you are going to have to kill me.'"

"Officer Chandler and Officer Kenney both indicated that Linda Hicks advanced toward Officer Chandler with scissors in a raised position … and Officer Chandler fired four times," Chief Navarre said.

Both officers are off duty and will be on administrative leave. The chief said the investigation would take three to four weeks.

A mentally-ill 62-year old woman is in the morgue today. Something is seriously wrong when the police use their taser guns instead of commonsense. That is my initial thought. What say u?


Gunfighter said...

(Sorry about the deletion... There was a terrible typo that I didn't see.)

Honestly, I think that the officers showed due diligence in using the TASER. It is clear that they didn't want to hurt Mrs. Hicks.

When someone holding scissors says "you're going to have to shoot me" they mean it. Most officers would have shot their suspect (and that is what she was) with their service pistol... and would have been clearly justified (and with fewer questions).

Using a TASER in "drive stun" mode doesn't deliver any more electricity that when connected to the weapon via barps and wires.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - I appreciate your comment. This death has me somewhat confused. The police chief clearly indicates that the taser was used in 'drive stun' mode. However, parts of the story talk about 'bullets'. I didn't think that 'bullets' (in the traditional sense) came out of a taser gun.

I'm still trying to get that factoid cleared up in my mind...

Gunfighter said...


The barbs that are shot from a taser are propelled by comressed air... well, actually it's Co2... they aren't bullets inthe traditional sense.

Missdeejay said...

Go to The Toledo Blade website and get correct info. She was Tasered at least once, TASER MALFUNCTIONED.I think that she was in the bed at that time allegedly with a pair of scissors concealed under a pillow. After being Tasered she responded with the scissors and a threat towards the police.The policewoman responded to that action with four shots,TWO in the head.
Gunfighter, question; would you feel that it was "due diligence" if that had been your Mother or sister? Whatever happened to CRISIS-iNTERVENTION, when dealing with a person who is skizophrenic and off their meds. She WAS NOT A CRIMINAL.

sissy said...

1. Ms Hicks was a mentally ill elderly woman

2. She was uncooperative, not violent.

3. The scissors were described as small sewing scissors - hardly a deadly weapon.

4. One of the officers on the scene was trained to deal with the mentally ill and practice crisis intervention.

5. Anyone who has worked with mentally ill adults, patients suffering with schizophrenia, including a police officer trained in crisis intervention knows or should have known that command and control is not the first approach that should be used.

6. A person suffering s psychotic break most likely cannot process the world around them, they are confused, afraid, possibly paranoid. They cannot process reality and that is why they cannot respond to barking orders. They often feel frightened and threatened.

Attacking Ms Hicks with a taser only escalated the situation to violence. The goal of the confrontation should have been to deescalate, and help calm Ms Hicks down.

7. An elderly psychotic woman lying on her bed with a small sewing scissors in her hand is hardly a threat of deadly force against the officers.

8. The police in this situation were aggressive and they alone escalated the situation to deadly force.

9. I would not like to see those officers in uniform ever again. They forgot their training and simply escalated the situation to deadly force.

10. Ms Hicks was a mentally ill elderly woman, she was not a vicious felon, and she should have been treated in a quiet reassuring tone of voice and she should Have been allowed to maintain her own safe space - the police just barreled into Ms Hicks, and killed her.

sissy said...

And another thing - apparently Ms Hicks was being cared for in a home. It seems strange that the care taker apparently had no medical or nursing support to call to help settle Ms hicks down, or even a standing order to give Ms Hicks a tranquillizer.

How can it be that an elderly mentally ill woman is living in a situation without direct nursing care? Was Ms Hicks simply being warehoused in this living condition?

Where was her care plan? Where was the treating psychiatrist - why wasn't he called or a responsible nurse called as soon as Ms Hicks began refusing her medication?

How many days did Ms Hicks refuse her medication? If this could have been addressed by medical or nursing intervention in the home I would expect the whole confrontational could have been avoided.

Where was Ms Hicks medical team, her psychiatrist, her social worker, her nurse when the situation began with Ms hicks refusing her medication?

justice said...


Linda was shot in the head.
Linda was shot in the jaw
Linda was shot in the chest
Linda was shot 2 times in the stomach.

Help us all, if that is what the police need to do to protect us from a 62 year old lady.

Villager said...

MissDeeJay, Justice & Sissy - I think that you are providing the important facts and questions in this case. I'm looking at it from afar ... I just don't understand how or why the police officer needed to kill this woman. It seems that she (police officer) made a mistake. How dangerous can a 62-year old woman be to two trained police officers?

justice said...

The police review board decided that the officers were not guilty of any wrong doing. Does that surprize anyone, thats like asking the students to grade their own papers. When is the system going to have an "outside" group monitor the actions of the police.

Hopefully the lawyers will find justice for Linda -- and that she will not have died in vain.


Villager said...

Justice - I hope you're right...