For months, Shana Grice had been telling police that her ex-boyfriend was stalking her.
The 19-year-old had caught him trailing her in her car and creeping into her bedroom after stealing a spare house key, breathing near her as she hid under her comforter and waited for him to leave, prosecutors later said. Then there were the seven phone calls from a blocked number in one day, with silence on the other end, according to the Argus.
Michael Lane was told to leave her alone but, ultimately, Grice was punished, fined for wasting the authorities’ time. Then in August 2016, Lane killed her — cutting her throat in her home in England and setting her bedroom on fire, according to local news reports.
After an investigation from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the police department’s response, two officers — one of whom has since retired — will face disciplinary action next month, Sussex Police said Wednesday in a statement to The Washington Post. Another officer will face “internal misconduct proceedings,” and three others have received “management advice and further training.”
“When we looked at the circumstances leading to Shana’s murder, we felt we may not have done the very best we could,” Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said in the statement.
“Our then Deputy Chief Constable personally visited Shana’s family to apologize on behalf of Sussex Police. Since then we have undertaken all their recommendations, thoroughly reviewed all aspects of how we deal with cases of stalking and harassment and have significantly improved our service to victims,” he added.
Grice reported Lane to the police for stalking at least five times before her death — and so had 13 other women, according to BBC News.
After Wednesday’s report from the IOPC, Grice’s parents, Richard Green and Sharon Grice, said the police “should not be applauded.”
“Our daughter took her concerns to the police and instead of being protected was treated like a criminal. She paid for the police’s lack of training, care and poor attitude with her life,” they said in a statement about the findings, according to BBC News.
“It’s only right that the police make changes,” they added, “but it’s too little, too late for Shana.”
Grice met Lane in 2015 in Brighton, a town in East Sussex, and soon the two were dating.
But one Tuesday in August 2016, Grice ended it. She had told Lane that she wanted to be with her previous boyfriend, the Argus reported.
Prosecutor Philip Bennetts later told the court that Lane had become “obsessed” with the 19-year-old woman, watching her every move, according to the Telegraph.
Bennetts said that “During their relationship, he stalked her. He put a tracker on her car and followed her movements. That obsession with her translated into killing her. He would not allow anyone else to be with her.”
Lane told a friend that she would “pay for what she’s done,” according to the newspaper.
At some point, Grice rekindled her relationship with her boyfriend, Ash Cooke. On the morning of Aug. 25, 2016 — two days after breaking up with Lane — she kissed Cooke goodbye as he left her home for work — and it was the last time that the then-21-year-old Cooke saw her alive, according to the Argus.
“I start work early and I have to leave hers at 7 a.m. in the morning to get ready,” Cooke told the newspaper at the time. “She was awake and came to the door, we had a kiss and a cuddle and said goodbye, and then she locked the door after I left.”
But Grice, who was working for the U.K.-based grocery wholesaler Palmer & Harvey, never showed up at her job, according to the Argus.
“I jumped in my van and rushed back to hers as fast as I could,” Cooke told the newspaper.
Authorities responded for a welfare check at Grice’s home in Portslade Village and found her dead, facedown on her bed in her smoke-choked bedroom, according to the Press Association.
Lane was convicted in Grice’s killing and sentenced in March 2017 to life behind bars — prompting questions about the events that led up to her slaying and about the way authorities responded to them.
In a report published Wednesday, the IOPC, which oversees complaints against police in England and Wales, spelled out its findings and noted that since Grice’s murder, Sussex Police have made improvements in how it handles similar stalking and harassment cases.
“The report acknowledges that we have significantly improved our understanding of what stalking and harassment is, and what our response should be. It also sets out where there is even more work to do and we accept this,” May, the assistant chief constable for the Sussex Police, said in a statement.