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Henrico Police show body-cam video of fatal shooting: ‘We’re just trying to help you’

Posted at 6:28 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 19:50:49-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Body-camera video shown to media members Friday afternoon showed 57-year-old Gay Plack swinging an ax at two officers before she was fatally shot during a welfare check Tuesday.

The footage, which has not been released to the public, was shown to reporters inside the Henrico public safety building.

Henrico Police responded to the 2900 block of Huntwick Ct. in the Wellesley community for a welfare check called in from Plack's doctor.

The 7-minute long unedited body cam video began with two Henrico Police officers at the rear door of the home. The officers can be seen knocking on the door, but not receiving a response. After finding a door that was unsecured, officers entered the home and identified themselves as Henrico Police and called Plack’s name.

After clearing the kitchen and the second floor of the home, the officers turned their attention to a locked door on the first floor of the home. After looking through an outside window, an officer noted that the room appeared to be a bedroom with the light on.

An officer knocked on the outside window several times.

“Both of those doors are locked so there has to be someone in there,” an officer can be heard saying in the body-cam video.

Gay Plack

Police Chief Humberto Cardounel said officers decided to force entry into a locked bedroom to see if anyone was in distress.

Body-cam video shows an officer breach the door by kicking it in. Upon entering the bedroom, one officer entered the bathroom and noted that he saw some blood.

As he pushed back the door, the officer could be seen retreating from the bathroom and a woman confronts the other officer while swinging an ax towards them. One officer can be heard telling the woman to stop several times before she was shot. Four gunshots were heard during the video.

Henrico Police confirm that both officers fired shots at Plack.

Cardounel said the "extremely violent, extremely volatile situation" literally unfolded in about "four seconds.”

The officers were then seen standing over Plack. Cardounel said the officers believed she was only wounded in the hand.

After the shooting, an officer can be heard saying “Ms. Gay. Why would you do that? We’re just trying to help you.”

She was transported to the hospital where she died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, according to the medical examiner.

Cardounel expressed sympathies for the family, but said he believes his officers had no other option under the circumstances.

“I feel confident in the officer’s actions. What they were confronted with, left our officers no other option,” Cardounel said Friday after showing the video.

Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor echoed those sentiments.

“I have no concerns about the actions that those officers took," Taylor said.

However, Taylor says the shooting is still under investigation and there has been not been a decision on any charges in connection to the shooting.

Family members and multiple neighbors confirmed Plack dealt with mental health struggles and was bipolar. They said she was a nice, kind person who never showed signs of violence in the past.

Henrico Sheriff's Office said deputies served temporary detention orders at the home on two occasions, in July 2017 and June 2018.

Cardounel says he believes this is the first time the department has every released body-cam video to the media. He said he felt "comfortable" showing the video to the media in an effort of transparency and clear up any rumors surrounding the shooting.

He added that the department has offered to show the Plack family the bodycam video.

"This went so terribly wrong"

Bob Bostock sat in his New Jersey home Friday morning writing his sister's eulogy.

"This is the by far the worst thing I've had to write," he remarked.

Bostock said their childhood was a "tough time" after their mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Gay Plack would eventually be diagnosed with the same illness, as did her aunt.

"She would go a couple of years being productive, fine and doing great, then the disease would whisper in her ear," Bostock recalled.

In 2011, Plack gave up her nursing license after she was involuntarily committed to a hospital, according to the Virginia Board of Nursing. Bostock said his sister wanted to focus on her healing.

Painting was her passion. Bostock said she often gave art classes to senior citizens.

He described his sister as vivacious and happy. But, he called her battle with mental illness a cycle - of highs and lows.

"One of the most hardly ironic welfare checks -- she ends up being shot to death by the police who were there to make sure she was okay," Bostock said.

He criticized the video statement Chief Cardounel issued on Thursday night.

"I was disappointed it took him two and half days to say anything. I was disappointed he wasn’t willing to stand in front of a bunch of reporters and answer questions about this whole thing," he stated.

He questioned the officers' actions and the fact they broke down a locked bedroom door.

"They should not have resorted to deadly force against a 5 foot 4 inch, 57 year old woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats," Bostock explained.

He urged police to re-evaluate their processes and called for accountability. Bostock shared a message with the officers involved in the ordeal.

"In some ways I feel sorry for them because I'm sure it must be difficult for them to know that they killed this woman who was much beloved," he stated.

Plack's funeral is scheduled for Sunday.

This is a developing story.