Prosecutors find officer `justified' in shooting

Rodgers Forge woman killed during standoff

October 09, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County tactical police officer who shot and killed a Rodgers Forge woman during a 12-hour standoff last month will not face criminal charges, a county deputy State's Attorney said yesterday.

Prosecutor Sue A. Schenning said an investigation by the county police department's homicide unit and by the State's Attorney's office concluded that Officer Robert O. Jones, "was completely justified in firing his weapon" at 40-year-old Tambra W. Eddinger, when she barricaded herself in her bedroom with a rifle Sept. 6 after arguing with her husband.

Eddinger, of the 300 block of Dumbarton Road, a quiet rowhouse community, was shot three times in the chest after a day-long standoff that began at 4 a.m. with Eddinger appearing to be intoxicated and irrational following an argument with her husband.

The police, said Schenning, "knew she was armed, and at the time they began to make entry into the home she turned toward them and pointed her weapon in their direction."

Police said she may have mixed alcohol with anti-depressants. Eddinger, a hairdresser and mother of two children, died an hour after the shooting at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Yesterday, Schenning said the officer who shot Eddinger was "in fear of his life" when he fired the shots.

"The police are trained to react that way. Everything he did at the moment of the shooting was completely consistent with what his training has been," she said.

"[Eddinger] represented a considerable danger to the police officers who were within a short distance," at the time of the shooting, added Schenning.

After the shooting, several neighbors were critical of the way the police handled the standoff and of Eddinger's resulting death.

Yesterday, Lisa Hurka Covington, who lives a block from the Eddinger home and is the founder of a suicide prevention group, said neighbors have asked why the police didn't use alteratives such as firing rubber bullets, sending the dogs into the house, or wounding the woman in the arm "versus three shots in the chest and shoulder."

Police fired tear gas into the house, as well as a nonlethal weapon that shoots beanbags and "flash-bang" devices into the house before they entered the home.

Covington also questioned whether police, during previous calls to the house for domestic violence complaints, asked if there was a gun in the home.

"If that weapon was confiscated she would still have been alive," Covington said.

When asked if she believed officer Jones should have been charged criminally for the shooting, Covington said she is more concerned for officer Jones' well-being, than with any criminal investigation.

Yesterday, Michelle Lane, a nurse who lives five doors from Eddinger, said the shooting might have been avoided with more help from mental health professionals. Eddinger, she said, appeared to be having a "psychotic episode."

"She was one woman in the house against a SWAT team, a group of police officers with canines, armored vehicles out front and a helicopter above," Lane said. "When someone is having a break with reality, you don't want them to feel more isolated A normal person would have a problem walking outside and facing that."

Yesterday, Eddinger's husband, Irvin, could not be reached for comment.

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