SSRI Stories Note: The Physicians Desk Reference states that antidepressants can cause a craving for alcohol and can cause alcohol abuse. Also, the liver cannot metabolize the antidepressant and the alcohol simultaneously, thus leading to higher levels of both alcohol and the antidepressant in the human body
DA investigates police shooting of woman
Had attacked officers with knife
By Patricia Wen
Globe Staff / July 25, 2010
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office yesterday continued to investigate how an emotionally troubled, knife-wielding woman was fatally shot Friday by Somerville police during a chaotic scene involving three officers inside her home.
The death of 33-year-old Carolyn Lynn Kingsley came several hours after she was released from Cambridge Hospital, where she had been taken by emergency responders after a 911 call from neighbors complaining of bitter fighting between her and her boyfriend.
Kingsley, who had a history of alcoholism, depression, and violent outbursts, died after being shot once by an officer. Police have not indicated where the bullet hit her. The three officers, all of whom were treated for multiple puncture wounds, were the only witnesses to the shooting that happened about 6:30 a.m. inside her Sycamore Terrace home.
The officers are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure. The investigation could take several days to two weeks.
Friends of Kingsley have asked how a 5-foot-3-inch, 125-pound woman even one brandishing a knife could not be controlled by three male officers without resorting to gunfire.
Kingsley’s former longtime boyfriend, Peter Cusick, 50, said he did not understand why the situation escalated to the point that three officers couldn’t control one relatively small woman. “Why didn’t they just shoot her in the leg?’’ he asked in a phone interview yesterday.
However, others familiar with such investigations point out that the knife wounds suffered by the officers suggest that they did not resort to the use of guns immediately and may have had valid reason to feel their lives were in jeopardy.
Kingsley had a history of police run-ins, including one in which she spit at and kicked officers.
“It’s way too early to say if this is excessive use of police force,’’ said defense attorney Randy Gioia. “She did apparently injure the police with a knife, and a knife is a deadly weapon.’’
Somerville Police Chief Michael Cabral said yesterday that he supports the introduction of Taser stun guns to his force, though he would not speculate whether such devices would have prevented Kingsley’s death.
He said his department has two stun guns and the city is debating the purchase of additional devices for broader use within the police force.
His officers have pepper spray and expandable batons, but Cabral declined to comment on whether these items were used before Kingsley died, or any other aspect of the investigation.
Until more details of this shooting are known, Cabral said, he and others cannot say what factors may have made a difference in an officer’s “split-second decision’’ to pull out a gun.
One Boston defense attorney said that the preliminary facts of this case show numerous missed chances to avert the crisis, including a failed opportunity to detain her overnight if not longer at Cambridge Hospital just hours before the police confrontation. Continued…
“The system clearly let her down,’’ said Jeffrey Denner, who is not involved in the case. “She shouldn’t have been released from the hospital. Someone made a bad call.’’
About 3 a.m. Friday, Kingsley was taken to Cambridge Hospital by emergency responders who had received a 911 call from neighbors describing loud fighting between Kingsley and her boyfriend.
She was not kept more than a few hours, even though state law enables hospital doctors to detain a person involuntarily for up to four days, without a court order, if they believe the person is a danger, Denner said.
“I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the attending physician saw no reason to keep her,’’ said Doug Bailey, spokesman for Cambridge Hospital.
Bailey would not say why emergency responders brought her to the hospital, whether it was a mental evaluation or treatment of a physical condition.
Soon after Kingsley was released from the hospital, police were called to the Sycamore Terrace home again about 6:30 a.m. after she allegedly hit her boyfriend and tried to set fire to his clothes.
Cusick said Kingsley suffered for years because of excessive drinking and relied on antidepressants. He said her mental state deteriorated after she lost custody of her daughter, then a preschooler, about four years ago. He said when he met her six years ago, Kingsley was a quiet, passive woman with a passion for the Boston Bruins. She did not work but received federal disability payments and food stamps, said Cusick, whose relationship with her ended earlier this year.
Cusick said one day in 2006, a day-care teacher called the state’s child protection agency, saying Kingsley’s daughter had reported that her mother had struck her with a hammer. The allegation sparked an investigation; the child was placed in a foster home and was ultimately adopted.
While Kingsley was allowed to visit her daughter, the removal of the girl from her care was traumatic, Cusick said.
From that point on, he said, she developed a far more volatile, angry side and she routinely consumed six beers nightly.
“It was like Jekyll and Hyde,’’ he said.
Patricia Wen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.