portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

police / legal

Aloha cops shoot woman in chest - claim she was armed, she was UNARMED

another depressed, suicidal person attacked by killer cops -- WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS ON CALL TO DEAL WITH THESE SITUATIONS??!!!
KGW article (btw the guy quoted in the last paragraph was misquoted - on the tv news he said it was 'very disturbing', not 'very interesting', as the print version says):

Woman shot by police in Aloha left will

ALOHA, Ore. Police shot a woman in Aloha early Thursday morning after responding to a call that she had a gun and was making a threat.

After the shooting, police found a note in her apartment about what to do with her estate if she died, according to Washington County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. David Thompson.

A woman called 9-1-1 around 2:30 a.m. and said she was in the bushes in the Aloha Park Apartment complex along 185th Avenue, just south of Baseline Road, he said.

Without specifying a victim, she said, she was going to "shoot her." She eventually hung up.

When deputies arrived, they encountered Mary Diershaw, 50, in the parking lot. She had her right hand tucked into a heavy coat and told deputies she had a gun, Thompson said.

Deputies ordered her to show her hands but she did not. She started advancing quickly on the deputies while appearing to pull something out of her coat, Thompson said.

A gunshot hit her once in the right arm as she pulled an object out. It turned out to be a silver-colored comb.

Diershaw was taken to Emanuel Hospital, where she underwent surgery and was listed in serious condition. The bullet appears to have passed through her arm and into her chest.

The note she left in her apartment appears to have been written within 24 hours prior to the encounter, Thompson said.

Mitch Osburi said he heard the shots from a nearby fireworks stand.

"Its pretty interesting that, that could happen right next to us without knowing what was going on," he told KGW.

A detour was set up around the apartment complex on 185th Avenue during the investigation.

There were no other injuries.

homepage: homepage: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38037292/ns/local_news-portland_or/

a different perspective by someone ordinarily not supportive 02.Jul.2010 09:17

of the police state

All right, the Portland police are famous for killing harmless mentally ill people. And each and every one of their killings has been just completely inexplicable. A mentally ill man armed only with a hobby knife. A completely unarmed man on Burnside whom they first said had a pocket knife, then said had a crack pipe (so?) then amended again and said it was a pocket knife, and then admitted it was nothing. A completely unarmed man who had done nothing wrong other than look homeless, who was jumped and beaten to death and then laughed at. An unarmed man shot dead in a MENTAL HOSPITAL, whose killers later received MEDALS for the killing. And etc. The list goes on for miles.

But in this case, while I would not be so callous as to "congratulate" the police for shooting a mentally ill woman, I do have to say that from what I hear it sounds like the Aloha officer exercised a degree of control and common sense rarely seen among the police. A person claiming to have a weapon, advancing with their hand hidden, making threats, in a populated area... if that's really what happened (and who knows) then I would say shooting her in the arm rather than the chest (as pdx would have done) was a life saving move. What would any of us have done? It's not like we could see into her pocket any better than the officer.

I think we need to be careful about the term "suicide by cop," though. It's used far too often to excuse the police from charges of murder. Every time they shoot someone with mental illness, someone throws this label on it, and that's wrong. It's as if they believe they were simply an innocent and passive actor in the drama, with no control over the situation and no culpability in the results. That's simply not the case. Here, for instance, the officer did not kill the woman, there was no suicide. See? It's possible to do something other than kill a person, making police killings of mentally ill people murders rather than suicides.

To the comment above 02.Jul.2010 13:11


This situation may have been in some cases similar to another recent "officer involved shooting"...


In any case this serves to remind us that a critique of the police should not stop at the most basic, surface level analysis... that is, the police certainly happen to do a lot of helpful, even seemingly necessary things right now, but that doesn't mean that they are the only institution that has ever or could ever possibly do these beneficial things. Also they do A LOT of harmful things that are often deeper and more systemic than just random racist/ableist/whatever killings.

Eventually the linked to article will be re-written as a general analysis piece and hopefully printed