Police shooting at grocery store ruled justified
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
5/15/12 at 12:36 PM
Two Tulsa police officers were justified in shooting a woman outside a closed grocery store April 20, the District Attorney's Office ruled Tuesday.
Officers Jason Bell and Jennifer Moore shot Maria de Lourdes Vazquez-Hernandez, 35, during a confrontation about 1:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Las Americas Super Mercado, 2413 E. Admiral Place.
A motorist who had an encounter with Hernandez reported that she had a gun, and Hernandez told police officers outside the store that she had a gun, according to police reports. She was reaching for her waistband when she was shot, a report says.
Further investigation revealed that Hernandez was unarmed, police said.
The District Attorney's Office said in a statement that the officers were justified because they had reasonable belief that Hernandez had a gun.
“The fact that no gun was found is not the determining factor in these types of cases,” First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said in the release.
Bell and Moore were placed on administrative leave as authorities investigated the shooting.
Hernandez was charged May 2 with misdemeanor assault against David William Bennett, a motorist she reportedly encountered near the store minutes before the shooting.
Bennett told police that Hernandez was a passenger in a vehicle that swerved towards his in the 100 block of South Lewis Avenue, according to an arrest report.
He reported that he followed the vehicle when it pulled into the store's parking lot, where he said Hernandez threatened him and acted like she was going to pull out a gun, the report says.
The report adds that Bennett called police after the incident and told them that the woman in the car had a gun.
When police officers arrived, they ordered Hernandez and a male driver out of the vehicle but Hernandez stood up and "made a threatening move," a police spokesman said after the shooting.
“Our analysis most certainly took into account that police officers must make split-second decisions based on the information they have at the time they use deadly force,"
Drummond said in the release.
Hernandez, a Mexican citizen who is in the country illegally, was being held for immigration officials at the Tulsa Jail but was not in jail Tuesday, records show.
Hernandez filed a lawsuit April 26 in Tulsa County District Court accusing Bell, Moore and city officials of racial profiling and claiming that the officers shot Hernandez once in the arm and then twice after she fell down. It seeks an unspecified amount of actual damages in excess of $75,000 and additional punitive damages.
Read more on this story in tomorrow's Tulsa World.
Police detectives investigate the scene of a shooting the Las Americas grocery store near Admiral Place and Lewis Avenue on April 20. The District Attorney's Office ruled that two police officers were justified in shooting an woman in the store's parking lot about 1:30 a.m. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file
Maria de Lourdes Vazquez-Hernandez