Three Texas police officers have been placed on administrative leave following the shooting of a 17-year-old girl allegedly “brandishing a weapon” last Thursday.
Kristiana Coignard was fatally shot in the lobby of the Longview Police Department after she arrived at the station asking to speak to an officer.
She was shot four times. Little is known about Coignard’s motives, if any, or the details surrounding her death. Family members told Think Progress that the teenager has been dealing with mental illness since the death of her mother at age 4.
From Think Progress:
The incident, at this point, is shrouded in mystery. Officials could not “confirm the type of weapon Coignard brandished at the officers.” Beyond the alleged, unspecified weapon, virtually no details about the events that immediately preceded Coignard’s death have been released.
Coignard was living in Longview with her Aunt, Heather Robertson. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Robertson raised questions about the circumstances of Coignard’s death. “I think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.”
Robertson said that her niece had been struggling with mental illness, including depression and bipolar disorder, since her mother died when she was four. She had been hospitalized twice in recent years after suicide attempts. One time, she tried to hang herself. Another time, she drank toilet bowl cleaner. Since arriving in Longview in December, Coignard had been taking medication and regularly seeing a therapist. She had no criminal record and “was only violent with herself, ” Robertson said.
A video of the shooting exists, Longview police told Coignard’s grandmother Holly McGuire. It has not been made available.
Coignard’s shooting raises questions about how police deal with mentally ill persons — last year, police were involved in a handful of shootings or excessive force cases that left mentally ill individuals dead, including 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, the schizophrenic Cleveland woman who died after she was slammed to the ground by an officer.
And here’s another alarming statistic:
Coignard’s death also raises questions about use of force protocols in the United States. British citizens, for example, “are about 100 times less likely to be shot by police, according to the Economist.”
An investigation continues.
SOURCE: Think Progress | PHOTO CREDIT: Handout