Hyattsville police officer shoots woman in the chest after a mental health call to her home


Hyattsville police investigate an officer-involved shooting Wednesday. (Lynh Bui/The Washington Post)
December 4, 2013

A Hyattsville woman armed with a knife was shot in the chest by a police officer in the basement of her home Wednesday, police said.

Hyattsville police responded to a call about 10:30 a.m. from a man inside the home worried about the woman’s mental health, said Lt. Chris Purvis, a police spokesman. The woman was wounded about 40 minutes later.

Officers intended to take the woman for a mental evaluation, but she refused to leave the basement. Four officers were in the basement with the woman when she “produced a knife,” Purvis said.

One officer tried to subdue her with a stun gun, but officials said the device was ineffective because she was wearing multiple layers of clothing. The officer fired one round from his weapon.

“Our officer felt threatened,” Purvis said.

The woman was taken to a hospital, where she underwent surgery, Purvis said. She was reported to be in stable condition, but no further information was available.

Police had been summoned to the same home, in the 5500 block of 43rd Avenue, a day earlier on a similar call, Purvis said.

Police did not release the name of the officer who fired the weapon. He has been placed on routine administrative leave.

On Wednesday afternoon, a man inside the home declined to answer questions from reporters.

Chris Gardella, 48, who has lived in the neighborhood near downtown Hyattsville for three years, said that he didn’t hear any shots and that he was unaware of any prior problems in the neighborhood or involving the couple.

“It’s a fairly quiet, normal, ­middle-class neighborhood,” he said.

Robert Mastin, 53, who lives next to the house where the shooting occurred, said he was unable to return home for a while Wednesday afternoon after getting groceries because police had blocked off the street.

Mastin described the couple as “just normal people.” As for the woman having any mental health issue, that would be “news to me,” he added.

Clarence Williams contributed to this report.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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