(kansascity.com) – Ciara Howard’s last act of defiance was slamming closed the laundry room door that stood between her and an arsenal of officers determined to arrest her one more time.
Suddenly, in chilling body camera footage obtained after The Star filed a lawsuit, the lead Olathe police officer forced the door open and three-plus hours of standoff came to a deadly end for an emotionally troubled 26-year-old woman with a history of nothing but small, nonviolent crimes.
For 13 harrowing seconds, Howard stood shouting and trembling in the small room with a gun in her hand, waving it aimlessly at first but at times clearly pointing it at officers who screamed at her to drop the weapon.
Two Olathe officers and a Johnson County deputy sheriff shot Howard in the Aug. 23 confrontation, and a review by the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office determined the shooting was justified.
But family members who have seen the video are anguished by decisions police made to even enter the house, knowing Howard was alone, emotionally disturbed and had a handgun with her.
Her crime was that she had not returned to a residential center as required under her probation; she had been charged with a felony of escape. A call two days later to 911 tipped police that she was at her boyfriend’s house. Distraught friends and family say she was a threat to no one.