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"Oh, absolutely," Roberson said in his OISIT interview. "I feared if she throws it and it's a lucky throw and it hits me right in the face, that's the end of a knife. You know, if I get hit in the vest, probably be all right, but in the face, where she was it was a pretty good chance, and I thought, if I don't kill her, she's gonna kill me."
Radio traffic picked up an officer telling Stuckey not to pick up the knife. Two seconds later: three gunshots.
Roberson reported that Stuckey threw the knife, which bounced off his helmet or vest. At that point, other officers entered the apartment. One told Roberson to holster his weapon.
Based on Roberson's account, Stuckey hardly seemed to react to the bullets that entered her neck, her back and her arm. He said she walked to a couch in her apartment.
Johnson County Med-Act was told that shots had been fired. Roberson was sent out of the apartment.
Officers Meyer and Taylor went into Stuckey's apartment. They found her slouched on the sofa and unresponsive. They moved her to the floor and applied pressure to her wounds with a towel but couldn't get a pulse.
Stuckey's memorial service took place April 3, 2010, in the Wesley Chapel of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
Kansas law says police can use lethal force if they reasonably believe that it could prevent death "or great bodily harm to such officer or another person."
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe reportedly said Stuckey had drugs and alcohol in her system. An autopsy reveals that there was alcohol, and that the drugs were painkillers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants. (Beverly Stewart tells The Pitch that her daughter suffered pain from spinal stenosis, a condition resulting from a narrowing of the spinal canal.)
Dave Bernard, a retired Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department officer who has investigated officer-involved shootings, tells The Pitch that there's no gray area when it comes to the use of force against someone armed with a knife. "A person armed with a knife and they're threatening you, it can become a deadly encounter," he says.
But why and how officers approached and entered Stuckey's apartment make up the basis of the lawsuit against the PVPD. "There's a strong focus on how the situation developed to begin with," Pilate says.
James Greenstone, a 35-year police veteran in Texas whose background includes experience as a crisis negotiator, reviewed some of the police records from the Stuckey shooting. He tells The Pitch that the shooting itself may have been justified under the law if Stuckey indeed threatened an officer with a knife, but he questions why trained negotiators were not the ones talking to Stuckey. He also wonders why negotiations didn't persist; Greenstone says he has been part of crisis negotiations that lasted for 40 hours.
"The thing that rips through my head is, if they were negotiating with her, they already knew she wasn't going to kill herself. She wanted the cops to kill her and she was ranting and raving with the cops for at least two hours," he says. "Why didn't they just keep doing what they were doing?"
In a legal filing, Stuckey's family casts doubt on whether or when Stuckey made threats to burn the apartment. The arson risk was the primary reason that the police used to justify entering her apartment without a warrant. But the filing says a sniper on the scene told members of the CIRT that Stuckey was pouring liquid from a bottle of liquid detergent — an indication that she was not necessarily preparing to set her place on fire.