A Kansas woman died in a hail of bullets following an armed standoff with police inside an Olathe residence.
In police camera footage obtained through a lawsuit by the Kansas City Star, 26-year-old Ciara Howard’s final moments on Aug. 23 can be seen as she attempted to barricade herself inside a laundry room.
The ordeal, which had spanned more than three hours at that point, came to a dramatic conclusion when an officer forced open the door and engaged in one final standoff with the suspect.
She occasionally pointed her own firearm at officers as she generally waved it around in the air. After ignoring multiple orders to drop the gun, police fired on her and she died at the scene.
Much of the communication between the woman and police was unclear in the video, but Howard did make it clear that she did not want to return to jail.
An investigation found two Olathe officers and a Johnson County deputy were involved in shooting Howard. They were cleared of wrongdoing after the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office ruled the shooting justified.
Though legally off the hook, the officers and the Olathe Police Department have come under fire from Howard’s family and others for what they see as an unwarranted use of force on a woman whose criminal record did not include violent offenses.
“Ciara was the only person in danger,” claimed her mother, Kathy Arnold.
Arnold’s husband, Mark, viewed the video and described Howard’s behavior as “almost delusional.”
At one point, she is seen barking at the police dogs involved in the encounter. Just prior to the shooting, she could heard alleging that the men confronting her were not real officers.
“She was more like a scared little girl than someone ready to shoot a police officer,” Mark Arnold said.
According to her mother, she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Police, who were looking for Howard after she did not report to a residential facility mandated as part of a probated sentence, reportedly responded to her boyfriend’s home after receiving a tip that she was there.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris McMullin confirmed that its decision regarding the shooting itself did not take into account the officers’ decision to enter the home.
“I’m a prosecutor, not a police tactician,” he said at the time of the ruling.
Following the release of the graphic video footage, the Olathe Police Department declined to comment to reporters, citing the fact that it involves an ongoing case.
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[Featured image: YouTube video screenshot]