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Published: 12/18/2009

Ministers ask for full accounting in woman's death

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA AND CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
A memorial to Linda Hicks is set up outside the adult family home where the woman was shot and killed by police Monday. A memorial to Linda Hicks is set up outside the adult family home where the woman was shot and killed by police Monday.
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The shooting death of a 62-year-old woman armed with a 10-inch scissors by a Toledo police officer this week sparked calls for full disclosure of the incident and greater care when dealing with the mentally ill.

Linda Hicks was shot at least three times by Officer Diane Chandler, who responded with her partner to the adult family home at 1321 Fernwood Ave. when the caretaker called 911.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said Ms. Hicks didn't comply with the officers' commands and tried to attack Officer Chandler with the scissors.

A five-person police firearms review board will review the shooting after the initial investigation, which includes a complete forensics analysis, the chief said.

Sixteen religious leaders from different churches gathered yesterday in front of the home where Ms. Hicks was killed to demand answers.

"We need some serious answers of what it looks like every time something goes down, someone is shot and killed, so our concern is to try and help the police make it better, that these things will not continue to happen," said the Rev. Theodis Horton of Shiloh Baptist Church. "When you see a 62-year-old woman taken out by police, it is really sad and it hurts our community."

The Rev. Cedric Brock, pastor of Mount Nebo Church on North Detroit Avenue and president of the

Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, called for full disclosure of the shooting.

"We are not here to bash the police," he said. "We as community leaders, as pastors, are very concerned about the inconsistencies surrounding the recent police shooting of Ms. Hicks."

He said pastors have received an outpouring of concern about the shooting.

Mr. Brock asked that the FBI get involved in the investigation.

"We understand the officers involved may have been young, but at the same time, a life is taken, and we are just very concerned," he said.

Donald Perryman, pastor of Center of Hope church, said the public is cognizant that police officers need to protect themselves but said there is a perception that the use of force by police is exceeding what is needed.

"We are also concerned … about what may be a growing culture of callousness when it comes to the most vulnerable in society, including the mentally disabled," Mr. Perryman said. "There's an understandable sensitivity in the city toward the plight of animals, but an inexplicable cultural callousness toward human life and to that end we are not here to bash the police."

He said police should collaborate with area mental health agencies regularly.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner asked for patience regarding the incident. "As we await a complete review of this matter, I urge all citizens to allow a thorough and complete investigation to occur before passing judgment," the mayor said in a statement.

City Council's Public Safety Committee yesterday reviewed the police department's standard policy for dealing with mentally ill and nonrational subjects.

Monday night, police said Ms. Hicks refused to comply when the two female officers ordered her to show her hands.

They then tried to subdue Ms. Hicks with a Taser, which malfunctioned.

Police Lt. Mark King told the committee the department's 460 Tasers are tested before each shift. "They are complicated devices, and we do have malfunctions," he said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio and the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association released a statement on the death of Ms. Hicks.

"In many cases, caregivers see these situations brewing and know when help is needed, unfortunately, that help is not available until the situation becomes so grave that the police must be called in and by then it is often too late, as was the case with Linda Hicks," the statement said.

The groups urged more funding for mental health facilities and people with mental illness.

One mental health official said he expected the death of Ms. Hicks in an adult family home to generate renewed interest in the crisis intervention training offered by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County.

Robert Kasprzak, the agency's manager of prevention and early intervention services, said police chiefs told him budget restrictions wouldn't permit them to pull officers from duty for the 40-hour week of mental health intervention training. But this was before the shooting of Ms. Hicks.

Toledo has sent 165 officers through the Crisis Intervention Team program since 2001, according to agency records.

Jacqueline Martin, the agency's executive director, said Ms. Hicks' death would have an effect on the CIT curriculum.

"There will be more focus on working with group home operations, more emphasis on site visits and officers' getting to know the homes and the workers at the site," she explained.

Mr. Kasprzak and Ms. Martin spoke after a scheduled meeting of the CIT planning committee, which has been working on improving the training curriculum.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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