After law enforcement shot and killed a half-asleep woman who was allegedly suicidal and then attempted to bribe her family, the victim’s children are speaking out and suing their local police department.
On March 25, 2015, law enforcement officials from Gardner, Kansas, responded to a call from Andrew Musto about 53-year-old Deanne Choate, who reportedly had been drinking, was in possession of a gun, and was suicidal, as reported by Courthouse News.
When officers Robert Huff, Justin Mohoney, and Jeff Breneman arrived at the home, they arrested and removed Musto, Deanne’s boyfriend from the house. They then headed upstairs to Deanne's bedroom, where the 53-year-old was found sleeping naked. After asking her to move quickly and locate the gun, she grabbed a hooded sweatshirt and found the weapon. The officers shot her dead soon after.
“They say she was pointing a pistol at them,” Michael Weddington, Deanne’s son, told The Daily Beast.
However, footage from the officers’ body cameras show otherwise. According to Weddington, prosecutors tried to prevent the video from becoming public with a settlement worth “not more than $200,000.”
"Deanne was not threatening in any way as she complied with officers' instructions in providing a handgun located between the mattress and headboard of the bed," said Michelle Choate, Deanne’s daughter, who is the primary filer of the wrongful death lawsuit. "The gun would have easily been located by officers if they had searched and 'cleared' the room as reported."
Neighbors also witnessed the incident and the terrible aftermath.
“We heard Andy screaming,” Gary Smethers told The Daily Beast. “He was handcuffed behind his pickup truck and screaming ‘You didn’t have to shoot her!’”
Deanne’s family insists that the situation could have ended peacefully, as she had never acted belligerently.
“They could have called me and said, ‘Your mom is apparently suicidal and we can’t get in contact with her; she’s not coming out of her room. I was no more than a 10-minute drive away,” her son said.
With the lawsuit, the family wants to bring attention and reform to the police department so a similar situation doesn’t happen to another family.
“If they just would have said, ‘We messed up, we’re sorry, we panicked and shot her and it was a mistake,’ we probably wouldn’t have sued,” Weddington explained. “But instead you’re not going to apologize. You’re not going to admit your faults. And you’re going to let the department cover it up.”