(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels)
A Norfolk, Va., woman was shot by police Saturday after officers say she made threatening motions with what was later discovered to be a fake gun, according to local ABC affiliate WVEC.
The woman, India M. Beaty of Norfolk, died at the scene while police administered first aid. The handgun appears to be a replica Beretta but lacks the orange tip mandated by U.S. law to indicate a toy or imitation gun. The officers have been placed on administrative duty, and police say their names will not be released during the investigation.
The incident occurred shortly before 1:20 a.m. at a strip mall in Norfolk. Two officers from Norfolk Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division were conducting surveillance for a case not related to the incident when they observed a man and a woman arguing.
When the woman produced a handgun and began threatening the man, the officers—who were dressed in plain clothes and body armor labeled “POLICE”—got out of their vehicle, identified themselves, and “provided verbal commands.”
Beaty refused to comply and brandished her handgun, at which time officers opened fire. The officers performed first aid immediately and medics arrived soon after, but Beaty died at the scene. Her family members said she was a mother of four, according to CBS news.
Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith said his thoughts and prayers are with Beaty’s loved ones.
“Any loss of life is tragic,” Goldsmith said in a statement, according to WTKR. “This morning’s events affect not only my officers and Ms. Beaty’s family members but our entire community. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Beaty’s loved ones and we appreciate the public’s patience as we continue this investigation.”
Beaty’s mother, Sherion Overton, questioned the officers’ account, saying it doesn’t sound like something her daughter would do.
“She would not do this; she was afraid of police. She was afraid. She would not take that chance,” Overton said. “What we were told is that she was out brandishing a gun and that the police confronted her and asked her where did you get this weapon from? What happened, what transpired from then to her being shot?”
The first officer involved in the shooting has been with the Norfolk Police Department 8 years and has been assigned to the Investigative Services Bureau, Vice and Narcotics Division for 1 year, according to WVEC.
The second officer has been with the Norfolk Police Department 6 years and has been assigned to the Investigative Services Bureau, Vice and Narcotics Division for 4 years.
Police have not indicated whether Beaty purchased the gun as-pictured or modified it to make it look more authentic.