Police Shoot, Kill 61-Year-Old Woman With Multiple Sclerosis Who Allegedly Wouldn’t Drop Knife, Guitar

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Police in San Jose, Calif., shot and killed a 61-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis in the driveway of her home on Nov. 16 because she didn’t respond to their orders to drop a knife.

They were there because a neighbor had called police with a noise complaint. Her widowed husband confirmed that the couple had indeed been arguing that day.

The victim, Andrea Naharro Gionet, was a diminutive woman who’d been diagnosed with MS earlier this year. Local news reports described the way in those who knew Naharro took police to task for the way they handled the encounter.

From KTVU News in Oakland:

“I asked the police why didn’t you just Tase her,” said Pam Polacci of Boulder Creek, a friend of Naharro. “Why did you use such deadly force?”

The three deputies who encountered Naharro just after midnight Saturday had a different impression.

They were responding to a noise complaint from one of Naharro’s neighbors.

“The subject produced a weapon,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup.

That weapon, a knife of unspecified size was in Naharro’s hand as she stood in her driveway. When she refused the deputies’ order to drop it, they say they fired.

Neighbors reported hearing three shots. Authorities have not said how many times Naharro was struck.

“The knife was located next to the deceased subject,” added Stenderup.

Onlookers told media that the victim appeared to have been holding a guitar in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other when the police opened fire.

“Even if she walked towards them and they told her to ‘stop’, c’mon,” said family friend Tony Poalucci. “You guys know how to do hand to hand combat. Pull her to the ground.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.