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UPDATED: Costco shooting justified

Costco shooting press conferenceTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman, seen through TV station cameras, on July 31 explains to the press the results of findings that determined the shooting death of a 38-year-old woman in a Sterling Costco May 29 was justified. Standing behind Plowman is Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.
The Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office on Wednesday released findings that the shooting of a 38-year-old woman inside a Sterling Costco on May 29 by a deputy was justified.

Mhai Scott, 38, of Sterling, died some time after 3 p.m. May 29 after she was shot four times by a Loudoun County Sheriff's Office deputy whose name was not released.

"This is a tragic event and all of us wish we didn't have to be here today … ," said Loudoun Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman at a press conference.

Plowman said the deputy's shooting of Scott was in self-defense and in the defense of the customers in the store when she began charging at him with a knife and scissors.

"The actions taken by Ms. Scott of refusing to drop the knife and scissors coupled with her raising the weapons with the blades pointed at the officers and then charging at them, presented the Deputies with an immediate and real threat to their safety, as well as the safety of the bystanders and other Deputies," a 19-page report released by Plowman reads.

The deputy that shot Scott will return to duty after being on paid administrative leave following the incident, according to Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman.

Plowman said the justified determination was made after interviewing 40 people and reviewing the 911 call, hours of video footage of interviews with the deputies and witnesses and surveillance footage from inside the Costco. The surveillance footage does not show the actual shooting, he said.

"It's unfortunate, but the camera only captures about half of the aisle … not where she was ultimately shot," he said.

Plowman, when asked whether he believed five shots was excessive, said "even after [Scott] was struck four times she continued to walk the floor for a little bit."

According to the report detailing the incident, Scott had no reaction to the first shot. Unsure of whether he hit her, the deputy fired again. She then fell to the ground with both weapons still clutched in her hands.
The report did not say exactly where Scott was hit with each bullet.

Of the four deputies that responded to the store at Price Cascades Parkway, one was struck in the leg by one of the five shots fired during the incident.

Plowman said it's likely the deputy was struck by a ricocheting bullet, but it's not exactly known how he was hit.

Prior to the shooting, a deputy had commanded Scott to drop her weapons. When she did not comply he shot her with a Taser. A preliminary autopsy report said that the prongs of the Taser embedded into Scott's body, hitting her in the rear shoulder and upper buttocks.

However, for unknown reasons, the Taser malfunctioned and did not send electrical volts to Scott's body.

Plowman said the Taser has been sent to the manufacturer for further analysis.

"It could have been a mechanical or human error … it's unknown at this time," he said.

Erratic behavior

Employees of the Costco had called law enforcement after Scott, a Customer Services Demonstration employee, began acting erratic, complaining that the oven on the pizza cart she was manning wasn't working correctly. She also complained that the pizza slices should be bigger.

In the report, one 44-year-old employee said he tried to calm Scott but she continued her behavior and started saying irrational things like "How's this world doing outside?" "Why does the carpet smell this way?" and "What's going to happen to my daughters?"

Scott had grabbed a 13-inch carving knife off of her co-worker's cart and a pair of kitchen scissors and began waving the two around, the report said. A manager's attempt to get her to put the two down were unsuccessful.

A preliminary autopsy report, according to Plowman, indicates there were no alcohol or drugs in Scott's system at the time of her death.

She did, however, have a history of erratic behavior, according to the report, which detailed a February 2012 incident in Albany, Ohio, where Scott's ex-husband called police for fear she would harm their two children.
Scott, according to the report, had sent texts to her husband with messages such as "There is no other god than Satan!" and "Don't save the children."

The children were later found by police hiding in an upstairs closet. Scott was taken into custody and treated at Ohio State University Hospital where doctors described her behavior as "new onset psychosis" possibly triggered by her recent marital problems. She was prescribed Haloperidol, an anti-psychotic and given a psychiatric referral.

In June 2012, Scott began receiving psychiatric treatment in Northern Virginia, where she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. During her treatment, she was not allowed to have unsupervised visits with her children.

She told her psychiatrist during a March 9, 2013, visit that she had not taken her medication for three months.

A full copy of the report is available at http://tinyurl.com/m79aoo8.


Mental breakdowns and psychosis should not be treated with a death sentence.  You cannot tell me that the situation could not have been handled better.  Yes, perhaps they were following their training, but then the training is flawed at best.  God forbid I ever have a breakdown, because apparently I wont get the chance to recover from it.

We miss you Mhai

It’s clear that LC police officers need more training.  If shoot-to-kill is the modus operandi for a woman (who is maybe 5 feet tall) wielding a kitchen knife, then we have a problem. The woman went down and the deputy continued to fire 4 more times?  If that isn’t excessive force than I don’t know what is. There were four other deputies present with TASERs drawn.  After the first TASER malfunctioned why didn’t the other deputies use their TASERs? The biggest threat to public safety was not the woman with the kitchen knife, but the deputy who fired willy nilly 5 times. Perhaps there would have been more outrage if a Costco customer had been killed by the ricocheting bullet.  Apparently a foreign national with two children and a mental illness is less deserving.   

Love the monday morning quarterbacking Mr. Grimes.  Would you have felt better about the shooting, had she winged the knife into someone’s skull first ?  At what point do YOU make that call ?

six armed robberies in six weeks..how’s that for a statistic @constitution

In The Know - Crime is on the rise in Loudoun County? Please provide statistics.

I agree, Costco could have done a better job of screening this applicant—someone who’s denied access to her own children probably shouldn’t be hired as a customer demo person in a busy family oriented store.  Have any lawyers looked into this?  Also, mentally ill or no, if someone charged me with a pair of scissors in one hand and a knife in the other, I’d shoot, too.  The speculation is that the deputy’s injury was a richochet.

Less than two years until the Republican convention when we can get rid of Chapman and nominate a Sheriff’s candidate who has the experience and personality to restore the LCSO to it’s once proud and renowned status.  In less than two years the agency has been driven into the ground.  Chapman’s budget scandal, deputies getting locked up right and left, shootings, crime on the rise, where does it end?  Since Chapman took over morale has sunk to such a low level that both commanders and deputies are doing whatever they can to get out, most trying to find jobs with other agencies, but a few even leaving LE altogether.  Chapman has publicly dissed his fellow Republican politicians and by overspending his budget by millions (and not telling anyone) he has gone against core Republican principles.  Thank goodness the Board was kind enough to bail him out, although they were forced to or the deputies would not have gotten paychecks.  What kind of leader puts his people in that situation?
If you want to hear about the sad state of affairs at the LCSO under Chapman, the next time you talk to a deputy just ask him or her. 
In two years we need a leader who doesn’t have a huge ego but instead will work for the troops and the taxpayers.  We don’t need expensive Cold Case Units staffed by campaign workers who have yet to make an arrest in a cold case.  We need a Sheriff who can work within a budget, prioritize, get the deputies the pay they deserve instead of bumping up the commanders salaries, and trim the fat from the agency to be fair to the taxpayers of this County. 
Summer 2015- out with Chapman, in with a solid, humble Republican candidate, and come January 1st 2016 begin restoring the LCSO to its once proud stature!!

Unfortunately, it’s the citizens who dictate the action that law enforcement will take.  If an officer’s life, or that of another human being, is threatened, that officer will use deadly force.  The fact that one of the deputies made an attempt to use a less than lethal force weapon to begin with is proof that the deputies were not out to “kill” this person.  You can not win against an individual who is coming at you with a knife.  Had she not advanced, the outcome may have been different.

Law enforcement is not trained to “shoot to injure” - we are trained to shoot to kill.  I can only imagine what the comments would be if the deputies “shot to wound”, only to have her turn on a bystander and gravely injure or kill them.  No doubt the public would have been asking why they didn’t use deadly force and shoot to kill.

It’s easy to comment after the fact, when you have the time to dissect all the facts and information.  The deputies had a split second to make a decision.

Chances are, no one who has commented was there that day.  You can’t conjure up “what may have happened”.  An investigation has been conducted and the shooting was deemed to be in self defense.  It really makes no difference the sex, mental capacity, size, etc. of the “suspect” - she was a danger to the deputies and the citizens and the situation was handled appropriately.  Perhaps if there’s any fault to be had, it was that someone was not able to provide the mental help (if that’s the case) she needed before this incident.  It’s a sad situation for all involved.

Yes, the four shots that penetrated her were justified because talking to someone with a knife and possible mental illness is so unnecessary these days.  Loudoun County needs more training for their officers in how to deal with the mentally ill.

Another question is did only 1 deputy fire the shots? if so, then how did he/she miss and shoot another deputy? And which shot out of 5 hit the deputy?

This is why you shoot 1st:


The deputies did the right thing!

I find it hard to believe that four grown men couldn’t disarm a woman with a knife.  They are cowards, not heroes.

Good call Plowman. Don’t listen to these leftist radicals who can’t contemplate that a person lunging towards you with a knife justifies the use of deadly force. They all think you should first be stabbed in the neck before you can use deadly force.

I’m curious, the video shown on tv, appeared to show more than 2 cops(like 4+) and anything from their standpoint could be considered justified….. On another note, one has to wonder how she was hired if in June 2012 she wasn’t allowed around her kids? Especially using sharp instruments and around a lot of people, she doesn’t come off as a people person…. Costco and the company that hired her needed to do a better background check…....

Plowman should be ashamed.

What the heck kind of Attorney General do we have…that let’s these Commonwealth attorneys cover up this fiasco by the Sheriff’s Office, calls in another from Arlington to whitewash the Delgaudio investigation.    This is one more humiliation and embarrassment for most of us in Loudoun and a tragedy for a few.

Where was the recommendation on changes in procedure or equipment to prevent future killings? The goal should be zero deaths and whenever there is a death we should consider it a failure.

Frank Grimes - Really? Let me see you charge after someone that has a knife and coming at you? Yeah..I’m sure you’re a tough man behind your keyboard, but let’s see how you are in a real situation. It’s people like you that make our society a joke.

My prayers go out to the family of Mhai Scott and the Officers involved in the shooting. This was an unfortunate event but as Mr. Plowman state, justified.

OK, I agree with the fire Dick Black sentiment…

But, Plowman and Chapman are about the best we have representing us.  I’ll through Zurn and Clemens in there too.

Just another black mark on this embarrasment of a county Loudoun has become.

Anybody who still defends this Sheriff or the Board of Supervisors are the same people that say they at Congress, but re-elect THEIR congressman every 2 years.

“I shook their hand at a parade, they must be good!”

You are all being fooled.

Protect & Serve & Cover-up

Fire the board of supervisors
Fire Plowman
Fire Dick Black.

This county is out of control and a joke in the region.

Two cops cant take down a 38 year old woman with a knife without shooting her 4 times?

A county supervisor cant be indicted because he is a part time employee?

Yeh, you wonder why companies only want to put their servers here and not their employees. At least we got that political donation stadium coming soon.

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