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Family of suicidal woman shot by police says incident 'should have been approached differently'

pickaxe shooting
Posted at 9:37 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 21:37:45-04

NASHVILLE, TENN. — The family of a woman who was shot by Nashville officers says more should have been done to deescalate the situation before she was shot.

Three Metro police officers in Nashville arrived at a home Friday night to find a woman with a pickaxe and baseball bat. The emergency call was for a suicidal individual who wanted to be shot.

The video shows one officer take the lead in trying to talk her down. He spends minutes trying to negotiate a surrender as two other officers stand by on alert. Metro police say as they talked, the woman appeared to be calm enough with no overt aggression.

But then her mother arrives and tries to intervene. Officers say that's when things escalate, taking away the option of waiting until the woman surrenders.

"Under normal circumstances where the mother does not interject...that's exactly how that would have played out," said Metro police commander Scott Byrd.

Moments later, negotiations break down and an officer deploys the taser.

"They attempted the less-lethal approach initially. But the tasers did not work. It enraged her," said Metro Chief of Staff Officer Chris Taylor.

Just under three seconds later, another officer fires two rounds from his gun. The woman collapses.

"That's unreasonable. That was quick. They didn't give the taser a chance to work," said Michael Crestman, the woman's brother.

He said he understands that his sister put officers in an incredibly difficult situation, but believes they should have waited her out.

"They knew she was suicidal. She told them to come shoot her so they did," Crestman said. "This should have been approached differently. I saw a bit of lunge, but there was distance. It would be different if she had a gun."

Byrd says the distance between the one officer and the woman armed with a large pickaxe was small. The moment she was tased, she moved forward. "It is close. When you get to someone with a long handle and the ability to reach out to it was threatening."

When she did step forward, the other officer felt he had no choice, but to shoot and end the threat. The woman was hit twice suffering a lacerated kidney, colon and injured spinal cord.

She remains in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Metro Police say they are working closely with the mayor's office and the Mental Health Co-op to come up with new and better possible responses to all mental health calls.

The officers involved remain on paid administrative leave as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigates.

This article was written by Nick Beres for WTVF.