O'fallon officer told woman to put the gun down
O'Fallon officer told woman four times to 'put the gun down' before fatal shooting, police chief saysBY GEORGE PAWLACZYK AND BETH HUNDSDORFER
The officer who shot and killed Alexandra Nance last Monday while she sat in her father's pickup truck warned her four times to put down a handgun she was holding in her right hand, according to O'Fallon Police Chief John Betten.
In an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat, Betten said that after being updated on an Illinois State Police investigation concerning her death and after listening to an audiotape taken from the officer's squad car, he clearly heard the officer shouting: "Put the gun down. Put the gun down. Put the gun down. Put the gun down."
After the final warning, Betten said the sound of three shots were heard, which fatally wounded the 20-year-old woman. A handgun was found in her right hand after the shooting, Betten said.
A deputy coroner's preliminary report stated, "... a chrome auto handgun (was) lying on the female victim's right thigh." That report stated Nance suffered at least one bullet wound in the left cheek.
Betten said the squad car audiotape and the officer's account allege that Nance initially held the pistol pointed toward the glove compartment, and then swung the barrel around until it was pointed in the officer's direction.
While Betten would not identify the officer by name, he confirmed it is the same officer who fired three shots in April 2009 that killed a 44-year-old man who had threatened O'Fallon cops with a hunting rifle and had earlier killed his wife. That shooting occurred outside the man's apartment while his wife's dead body lay inside.
According to an Illinois State Police report, the officer involved in the 2009 shooting is Adam Taulbee, 35, a nine year veteran of the department. That shooting was ruled as justifiable following a State Police investigation.
Taulbee could not be reached for a response.
Betten said, without mentioning Taulbee by name, that he believes both shootings were justified and described Taulbee's record as "stellar." He said that he sympathizes with the Nance family.
"There is just no good that will come of this for anyone," Betten said.
Betten said that in the nine years he has been with the O'Fallon department, he knows of only six shots being fired in the line of duty by any of the force's patrol officers. All six of these shots were fired in the two shootings attributed to Taulbee.
He said that while Nance told officers she had consumed "a few drinks" when they first spoke with her earlier in the evening at 810 Victoria Lane before the shooting, she did not appear intoxicated.
State Police Lt. Jim Morrisey, who headed the investigation, met with the Nance family Monday morning.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida said he received the results of the State Police investigation later on Monday and will wait toxicology testing and autopsy results before making deciding whether the shooting should be ruled justifiable or whether prosecution could be warranted.
Paul Nance, the victim's grandfather, saidMonday that family members will not make further comment until the shooting investigation is completed.
The surveillance tape from the officer's squad car does not show what happened because the officer's squad car was parked directly behind Nance's truck in such a way that the video tape does not show Nance or Taulbee. Betten, reading from a transcript of the police department radio log and from the audio tape, gave this account of the shooting:
* 2:54:43 seconds a.m. -- Nance pulls into the driveway at 810 Victoria Lane, where earlier in the night she was removed by officers at the request of an ex-boyfriend.
* 2:54:54 seconds -- "She's pulling up to the house," the officer says. The officer was riding alone and was the only officer on the scene when the shooting occurred, Betten said.
Somewhere between this entry and the next, Betten said Nance can be heard yelling something. Betten said he couldn't make it out but he said others say it could have been, "I have a gun."
* 2:55:28 seconds -- "She's got a gun," the officer says into his radio.
Between this entry and the next, Betten said Taulbee warned Nance four times to drop the gun. He said the officer was standing in the driveway alongside the pickup near the driver's side window.
* 2:55:33 seconds -- "Shots fired. Call EMS," the officer says.
* 2:56.25 seconds -- A second officer arrives on the scene.
Betten declined the newspaper's request for a copy of the video/audio tape, stating it is evidence in an ongoing police investigation.
"I believe under the circumstances his actions were justified. He was in a criticial threat situation, with someone armed," Betten said. "The last thing I want to do is to speculate what all was going on with this young lady. But, it's my expectation that she did not go back to that house on Victoria to be confronted by the O'Fallon Police Department."
Betten was asked whether Nance might have been trying to surrender the pistol to the officer.
"No matter what the sequence of events is, whether she said, 'I have a gun,' or he saw the gun first, four times on the audio tape, not from the radio but from his squad car, he says, 'Put the gun down. Put the gun down. Put the gun down. Put the gun down. Four, clear, distinct direct orders to put it down."
I have been called a bitch for saying i think the cops did the right thing here. Sucks that shes dead totally, don't get me wrong. but for real? Who pulls a gun on a cop and doesn't expect to get shot at ? what do you think ladies?