HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney says no charges will be filed in the officer-involved shooting death of a woman after she confronted them with an ax in Henrico.
Gay Ellen Plack, 57, was killed on Sept. 17 during the shooting involving two officers, Henrico police said. The Medical Examiner determined Plack’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the manner is homicide.
Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said after two independent reports were done by separate Commonwealth’s Attorneys and her Henrico office, all three concluded that there was no criminal liability on the part of the officers.
“While, therefore, no charges will be filed, this was a tragic circumstance and I reiterate my call for a review of mental health policies at every level, to include stakeholders at both the state and local levels, to try to avoid future tragic incidents," Taylor said in a release.
"At some point I’m going to come down and go to a Board of Supervisors meeting of Henrico County and urge them to put into place some practices, policies and procedures that prevent this from happening again,” said Bob Bostock, Plack’s brother. “I really wasn’t surprised at the results of the report. Both the Chief of Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney said shortly after the shooting of my sister that they had reviewed the video and felt it was justified.”
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Bostock said Tuesday the numb and sad feelings he felt two months ago have been replaced with anger following the results of the investigation.
“This is an effort to convince people that this was a woman who was totally out of control and probably deserved the fate that she got," Bostock said.
The multi-page investigation revealed interviews with Plack's doctor who called police for a welfare check on September 17th after concerns about Plack's mental health. It also detailed the 57-year-old's history with mental illness.
“Which seemed to be unnecessary with the level of detail they went in,” Bostock said. “It seemed to me to be an effort to dehumanize her.”
While Bostock said his sister did battle bipolar disorder for many years, he still feels his sister was not a threat to police and instead needed help.
“There were no existent circumstances for them to go into the house,” he said. “As the report says, the psychiatrist who called for the welfare check made clear she didn’t think my sister was a danger to herself or was going to harm herself.”
However, all three Commonwealth’s Attorneys stated the officers had reason to believe Plack was in distress and therefore it was “necessary” to go inside the home to check on her well-being. One officer told detectives, “his awareness was heightened even more than normal for this particular welfare check.”
"The report itself said there were at least 15 welfare checks over the last decade,” Bostock said. “Never before had they gone into her house."
Investigation documents state HCPD records show 15 previous incidents of mental health encounters between Plack and the police between 2010 and 2019.
“Those encounters occurred at her current and past residences, as well as in public settings,” the document states. “There were additional calls for service for mental health interventions, which did not result in form police reports.”
Investigators said Plack came out of the bathroom wielding an ax at the officers before they shot her.
One officer told detectives, “I thought she was going to split my head open.”
The names of those two officers are redacted from the documents of the investigation. Bostock was hoping for more transparency.
“How is the public going to know who did this and if they’re going to be held accountable in any way shape or form for what we see is incredible lack of judgement,” he said.
According to investigators, the officers have experience ranging from two to nearly 35 years in law enforcement. One of those officers had not yet received full crisis intervention training when this shooting happened.
Those officers have been on administrative assignment since the shooting, and it’s anticipated both officers will be released back to their normal assignments in the near future, a HCPD spokesman said.
Henrico police also conducted a criminal investigation. The Police Division shared the criminal investigation with Virginia State Police for independent review earlier and their findings were released earlier in November.
“After its review, VSP acknowledged Henrico Police correctly identified all sources of information and thoroughly documented all relevant information from those sources in a manner that accurately reflects the facts of this case,” a release said.
Henrico police met with Plack’s son and his legal counsel to explain the findings and shared the body camera footage with them.
“I want people to know my sister was a kind, gentle, loving person,” Bostock said. “She was an extremely talented artist… I hope people don’t remember her for the way in which she died, but in the way she lived. A strong courageous woman who fought the battle as hard as she could and who gave a lot of love and joy to people in her life.”
The investigation’s findings were turned over to Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney for review earlier in November.
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