Tulsa Police Officers' Shooting Of Woman Ruled Justifiable
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa police officers were justified in the use of deadly force when they wounded a woman in April, the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office determined Tuesday.
Although Maria de Lourdes Vazquez-Hernandez was not carrying a gun, the police officers had reason to believe that she was reaching for a weapon when they shot her, First Assistant DA Doug Drummond said.
"The fact that no gun was found is not the determining factor in these types of cases," Drummond said. "The law looks at the totality of the circumstances."
Officers Jason Bell and Jennifer Moore each shot at Maria Vazquez-Hernandez at about 1:30 a.m. on April 20, 2012 after a citizen called 911 about a woman with a gun in the parking lot of Las Americas Super Mercado, 2413 East Admiral Place.
"Once they arrived, the officer closest to her saw a bulge in her waistband and he believed it was a gun," the attorney said.
"The officers also reported that Vazquez-Hernandez told them she had a gun prior to any shots being fired."
Vazquez-Hernandez survived the shooting. She was charged with misdemeanor assault against the citizen that called police.
"The use of deadly force was objectively reasonable," Drummond said.
"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."
Hernandez filed a civil lawsuit on April 26, 2012 against the city of Tulsa and the two police officers claiming racial profiling.
She is claiming damages of $75,000.