A Charleston officer’s use of force against a West Ashley woman over Memorial Day weekend could prove to be the very thing that saved her life.
Encountering a possibly suicidal resident, Grant Mattingley of the Charleston Police Department pulled his pistol and trained it on the woman before she pointed her own gun at herself.
She pulled the trigger repeatedly, but nothing happened, so Mattingley put his pistol back in its holster, police spokesman Charles Francis said. He instead pulled out a Taser and jolted her with it, allowing him and another officer to get control of the resident and her gun.
The police later found one live round in the revolver’s cylinder.
If the woman had kept pulling the trigger, the cylinder eventually would have spun until the firing pin lined up with the loaded chamber and struck the cartridge, causing the revolver to go off.
“The quick thinking of Officer Mattingley saved her life,” Francis said in a statement.
Distraught over the deaths of her two children, the 53-year-old woman was later admitted at a local hospital for psychological evaluation, according to an incident report.
The paperwork identified the woman, but The Post and Courier typically does not name people who commit suicide or attempt it. Officers were first called around 8 p.m. Sunday to her house in the Carolina Park community north of Savannah Highway. Dispatchers told them that they might encounter a suicidal person involved in a domestic dispute, according to the report.
The officers later learned that the woman and her husband were wrestling over a gun. During their telephone call with the husband, dispatchers overheard the woman say that she had one bullet and hoped the police would “take her with them,” the report stated.
Once they reached the house, the officers heard an argument inside, according to the document. Someone said, “Kick in the door.”
Officer Daniel Curlee tried exactly that by kicking the front door three times before the husband opened it. When he refused to step outside, the officers “assisted” him from the house, their report stated.
His wife then emerged from a bedroom with a black .22-caliber revolver in her hand.
Holding the woman at gunpoint, Curlee and Mattingley ordered her to drop the revolver to the living room floor, but she instead pointed it at her own head and pulled the trigger about three times, according to the report.
“Mattingley switched from his firearm to his Taser and deployed his Taser,” the document stated. “The firearm was secured, and (she) was taken into custody.”
The woman later sat restrained in the back of a police car, telling the officers that she had been suicidal since her children’s deaths about four years ago. The woman said she never wanted to hurt anyone but herself.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.