Why did police shoot Caroline Small in the head?

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After the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) published a thorough investigation into 35-year-old mother Caroline Small, who died a week after she was shot by police in 2010, serious questions surrounding the circumstances of her death have emerged.

Renewed attention to Small’s death has been intensified by the mysterious circumstances of  28-year-old Sandra Bland’s alleged suicide last Monday after she was arrested by Texas state troopers during a traffic stop.

According to AJC, Glynn County police officers shot Small in the head while she was in her car after a slow chase.


But was deadly force reasonable?

Disturbing dash cam footage of the shooting shows Small, who was unarmed, locked in by police vehicles. An officer is heard yelling, “If she moves the car, I’m going to shoot her,” according to AJC. Then eight gunshots were fired at Small’s vehicle.

After the Grand Jury found that the police’s use of force was lawful, neither of the officers involved were punished. And later a judge threw out the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, citing the same justification as the grand jury, that Small was a threat to police.


But the new investigation has found that Small’s case was mishandled. According to AJC the police department tampered with crime scene evidence and a local district attorney shared evidence with police officers before the grand jury convened. An officer’s car was moved to the other side of the street after the shooting, which allowed officers to change their story, says AJC.

A number of activists and journalists on Twitter are discussing the investigation and even calling for a federal investigation into Small's death.




Collier Meyerson is a reporter at Fusion with a focus on race and politics. She lives in Brooklyn.

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