Ruling on Costco shooting: ‘Justifiable homicide;’ NaFFAA dismayed

Loudoun Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman at a press conference. Photo: LeesburgToday.com

Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman at a press conference. Photo: LeesburgToday.com

By Maricar CP Hampton

The officer acted in “justifiable” self-defense.

This was the decision reached August 2 by Virginia authorities on the actions of a Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed Mylene “Mhai” De Leon Scott at a Costco outlet in Sterling on May 29.

“The deputy’s actions constitute a justifiable homicide as the killing was a reasonable use of lethal force and was undertaken in self-defense and done in the defense of others,” Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said, according to a press statement.

He released the findings after a two-month investigation where probers said they interviewed 32 eyewitnesses and reviewed in-store surveillance camera footage. Read the report here

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According to the report, Scott, a Filipino American, 38, was passing out pizza samples at the store when she started waving a knife and scissors in a threatening way. Five Sheriff’s deputies responded. When they arrived, they found Scott “behaving erratically” and wielding a 13-inch knife and a pair of scissors, authorities said.

Eyewitnesses observed Scott appeared to be experiencing a “psychotic episode” and behaving “irrationally” around 2 p.m. She was reportedly grousing about pizza slices being too small and the serving cart working improperly.
Then, she became agitated and grabbed a knife and a pair of scissors from a nearby cart. Two managers tried talking to her and convincing her to go home for the day when the deputies arrived.

The deputies reportedly tried to subdue her with Tasers but that did not work. Plowman said that it remained unclear whether the Taser gun failed due to mechanical problems or human error; he said the equipment would be analyzed.

One of the five deputies that responded — identified only as Foster — then pulled out his pistol and fired five rounds, which killed Scott.

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) expressed disappointment over the findings.

Said chairman Ed Navarra, “We are dismayed and disappointed by the results of the internal investigation. While we understand that police officers need to use force to protect themselves, we continue to believe that when guns were fired at Mhai Scott, it was an unreasonable and excessive use of force which showed a reckless disregard for the life of an innocent woman.”

Plowman said Scott’s medical history included mental illness. In February 2012, she experienced a “new onset psychosis” at her home in New Albany, Ohio, following a separation from her husband. Police were called and she was treated at a hospital and given a referral for outpatient psychiatric treatment. She also was prescribed the anti-psychotic drug “Haloperidol,” according to reports.

Her husband was awarded custody of their children. She moved to Northern Virginia in July 2012, continuing with her prescription treatment.

NaFFAA called on the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department to review its policies regarding the use of force.

“We reiterate our call for Loudon County Sheriff’s Department to review its policies regarding use of force, especially when confronting people who pose challenges because of cultural, racial and psychological factors,” he said. “This tragedy offers an opportunity to improve the training of Sheriff’s deputies, particularly in dealing with people with mental disorders.”



One Comment

  1. m. matthews wrote:

    I wonder why a police officer killed a woman who had no gun? Why he took up on himself to shot a mentally sick women with a knife? I wonder why 5 police officer could not subdue a one women that they have confronted before them?

    This is was not a justifiable killing as far as I’m concern. Its a pity that she had to die in the hands of a lone ranger deputy sheriff.

    The NA -FFAA should have people marching against excess use of deadly force by police officer.

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