A woman being held in police custody was fatally shot in Atlanta after police say she opened fired at them from the back of their own patrol car. Prior to the shooting, she was arrested after being found inside of a stolen vehicle.
According to police Chief George Turner, 26-year-old Alexia Christian found the .380-caliber Taurus handgun inside the stolen truck. It’s unclear how officers didn’t find the gun when they took her into custody.
Officers Omar Thyme and Jeffery Cook were investigating a stolen vehicle call Thursday when they saw a woman inside the vehicle in a parking deck near Underground Atlanta, a downtown mall. Police said the vehicle was equipped with a tracking device.
Christian’s hands were cuffed behind her back when she was put into the patrol car. It’s unclear how Christian was able to free one of her hands from the cuffs.
The shooting happened after the woman was walked out of the parking deck and was put into the patrol car, authorities said. The department is investigating whether any policies were violated, Turner said.
“It was clear to us that the officers did not search her prior to putting her in the back of the car,” Turner said.
Authorities are investigating whether Christian had been patted down before being put in the car, Department spokesman Greg Lyon said. Department policy allows male officers to pat female suspects down by using the backs of their hands in the presence of witnesses. Officers who are the same sex as the suspect are supposed to conduct a thorough search before the suspect is transported from one place to another, Turner said.
“This happened so quickly the officers, I do not believe, had a chance enough to call for a female officer, but all that’s part of the investigation,” Turner said.
Christian was able to fire three shots while the officers were sitting in the front seats, Turner said. The officers jumped out of the patrol car fired 10 rounds, Turner said. Neither officer was hit by Christian’s shots, he said.
“Both of these officers missed being killed by an inch,” Deputy Chief Darryl Tolleson said. Christian was critically wounded and later died at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Cook, 53, is an 18-year veteran and Thyme, 33, has been with the department for 10 months, Turner said.
The AP report also makes clear that both the officers are black, as was Christian. The officers are set to give statements early next week. Both officers are on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
For the record, the patrol car was equipped with a camera on the front and back, but Turner said the rear camera only operates when the vehicle is in motion. Even still, the front camera should be able to corroborate this story even a little bit.
[via ABC News]