Delma Towler, and 83-year-old woman from Lynchburg, Virginia, was gunned down by police on Wednesday of last week. Towler’s family is understandably peeved about the incident and are demanding justice from the unnamed officer who gunned her down, but as you might expect the details of the case are a bit complicated.
Based on the available evidence, it appears that Towler woke up to a robbery in progress. A bullet hole in the ceiling of her home suggests that Towler fired several warning shots into the air to scare off a thief, who made off with Towler’s missing purse. It’s also quite possible that Towler spotted the thief while she made her way to her sister’s house just two doors down. Broken glass on the back door indicates that Towler may have fired her gun again.
Towler wasn’t the only one on the lookout for thieves, though. A pair of police officers were responding to a hang-up 911 call that they received a few minutes earlier. The police and Towler crossed paths, and that’s when things went downhill.
According to state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller, officers shot Towler after she allegedly ignored police commands to drop her weapon, which she pointed at officers. It’s kind of understandable that the police would shoot at somebody brandishing a gun, but according to Towler’s daughter, Madeline Clark, Towler probably had no idea that the police were there. Towler had left her glasses and her hearing aid back in the house.
However, Towler’s sister, who claims to have witnessed the event, said she suspects that the police might not be telling the truth. She said Towler wasn’t pointing the gun at anybody. She was only trying to open up the gate when the police shot her.
Special agents with the Virginia State Police Criminal Investigation’s Police Shooting Investigate Team have been called in to take a look at the shooting. State Police Lt. Keith Keesee said, “We approach it just as we would any other investigation. There’s not much difference… We’re going to be on a fact-finding mission.”
They’ve been scouring Towler’s home for evidence, but the cops aren’t being as thorough as some would like. Residents of the area have complained that the police still haven’t spoken to any of Towler’s neighbors to determine if they heard or saw anything. Towler walked past several neighbors house and the police don’t think it prudent to ask those neighbors a few questions — where’s the logic in that?
At least Towler has her family in her corner. Linda Langford, Towler’s daughter, said, “If I have to spend every penny, someone’s going to pay.”
This case is a real toughie. Hopefully more facts come to light so that a more accurate assessment of the shooting could be made, but as it stands we could see the case going either way. If the cops are right, then it is somewhat reasonable for them to open fire on a person who is pointing a gun at them and ignoring demands.
On the other hand, though, grey-haired old ladies aren’t exactly the most threatening people in the world. It’s difficult to imagine an old lady exhibiting the type of body language that would justify the police gunning her down, especially if she wasn’t even aware that the police were present.
What do our readers think? Does the evidence pull you towards one side of the story, or are the facts on this case too muddy to make a verdict?