WASHINGTON - A D.C. police officer shot a woman wielding knives on Clay Terrace in Northeast D.C. over the weekend. She has been charged with several crimes and is still in the hospital.
But police shootings follow basic protocols and almost all people agree the officer did everything according to his training.
On Saturday evening, the police came to back up the fire department for an arson at a house in the area. The woman who lives in the home, Renita Nettles, came out with knives.
The police officer and the crowd told her to drop the knife.
His union representative said the young officer was following protocol if a threat came within about 20-foot circumference.
“He was doing what he was trained to do in the academy,” said Officer Robert Underwood, a D.C. Police Union chief shop steward for the Sixth District. “He was approached by a subject armed with a knife. He was giving loud verbal commands. He had his weapon out. The lady actually was not responding to any command given by the officer.”
Officers are trained to shoot only when the threat is imminent and will cause serious bodily injury or death.
“You're giving them loud verbal commands to drop the knife and they're not complying,” said Officer Underwood. “At that point, that becomes a threat to the officer and he has to protect himself. Not only himself, but other people around him.”
The police union said the officer did everything he could to avoid shooting.
The officer was standing about ten feet away from the woman with the knife, but she kept moving towards him and he showed amazing restraint by backing up and backing up. When he hit the curb, he couldn’t retreat any further and that is when he shot her.
Nettles was shot once in the chest. She is being treated for her injury. She was arrested and charged with felony assault on a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon and arson.
At the scene, the officer was more worried about the suspect than himself.
“He was very concerned over the individual in question,” Underwood said. “He showed a great deal of concern wanting to make sure she was okay. It's typical human nature. I truly believe he didn't want the incident to go like that. And the same rule of thumb, he had to do what his training taught him to do and he did.”
The Internal Affairs Division is investigating the shooting and they were back at the scene on Monday. By almost all accounts, this shooting was unfortunate, but by the book.
This police shooting didn't blow up in attacks on police because it was caught on so many cell phones and they could see the officer trying to stop a threat.
That is why many police officers support body cameras, but those have not yet been deployed to the Sixth District police department where this shooting took place.