Bodycam footage showing cops in Kansas shooting dead a disturbed woman in August has been released. Police in the town of Olathe shot Ciara Howard, 26, dead on August 23, 2017. In January 2018, the footage showing her death was released publicly thanks to a lawsuit filed by the Kansas City Star.
Howard is shown in the video to be wielding a gun. The victim also refuses to adhere to police orders and when they enter her room, she allegedly pointed her gun at officers. The shooting has already been deemed to be justified. Police were at the house, which is where Howard’s boyfriend lives, to arrest her on a probation violation at around 3 p.m. Authorities were tipped off about her whereabouts two days before her arrest. The officers who fired were two Olathe cops and one Johnson County sheriff’s deputy. The Star reported in September 2017 that Howard’s death had been deemed justifiable lethal force, according to the Johnson County District Attorney. No officers were injured during the incident.
Howard is survived by her daughter, Khaleesi, mother and six siblings.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Howard’s Boyfriend Says He Thought He Had Her Close to Surrendering
Fox Kansas City reported in September 2017 that Howard was on a work release program from prison, where she was serving time for theft as well as a parole violation stemming from June. Her boyfriend, Larry Sumners, told the station that he didn’t know that Howard was on a release and was due to return to jail. Howard was inside Sumners’ bedroom at the time of the standoff with the cops. He told Fox Kansas City that he tried to plead with Howard to surrender through the bedroom window. Sumner says, “I was just telling her to put the gun down and come outside and sit with me for a few minutes, and then just go finish her time because she didn’t have that much left. I told her I was not going to leave her. I thought I almost had her out but I guess not.”
Despite the officers being cleared of wrongdoing in the case the Kansas City Star says Howard’s family is “anguished” by the actions of law enforcement. At the time the cops were cleared, Johnson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris McMullin said, “I’m a prosecutor, not a police tactician. Our sole determination is (to assess) were their actions justified under Kansas law. … We don’t ask, in the spectrum of options police have, did they choose the best course of action.”
A neighbor, Jeff Howard, told KSHB about what he saw the day Howard was shot dead, “Just cops coming all over the place, going down the alley blocking it off.” At the time of the shooting, Larry Sumners told the Kansas City Star, “Why did they have to go in? There was no one else in the house. There were no hostages or anything.” He had earlier told Fox Kansas City that his children live with him part-time but he was grateful they were with their mother on the day of the shooting.
2. Howard’s Mother Says Her Daughter ‘Was the Only Person in Danger’ During the Standoff
Speaking to the Kansas City Star, Howard’s mother, Kathy Arnold said, “Ciara was the only person in danger.” While her husband, Mark Arnold, said, “It seemed like she was almost delusional. She was more like a scared little girl than someone ready to shoot a police officer.” Kathy Arnold added that her daughter had been diagnosed with having bipolar disorder. The Kansas City Star reports that Howard had sent her mother letters from prison that talked about going back to school and marrying her boyfriend, though Kathy Arnold told the Star, “But she discourages so easily.”
3. On the Day the Bodycam Was Released, Howard’s Mother Wrote ‘I Want Blood’ on Facebook
On the day that the bodycam of Howard’s death was released, Kathy Arnold wrote on Facebook, “Blood I want blood! And I want jobs.” Soon after Arnold said, “Who in the hell edits body cams and why? I want answers now…” Back on December 6, Kathy Arnold wrote in a lengthy post:
Officer Fletcher of the Olathe Police Department. You wont speak to me but did you know I watched the body cam the day my daughter was murdered. I watched and listened as you told her you were releasing the dogs but never did. You tortured her with those dogs for about 30 minutes with no intention of letting them go.
Did you know I watched you laugh several different times shortly before my daughters life was taken and yet you are back to work and this I do not understand. You had options like doing what you said you were going to do but never did. Next we will focus on the 911 call which we listened to and that explains a lot. We will discuss that in my next post.?PLEASE SHARE THIS POST… Ciara Howard my baby girl. Im working on making things right. Love Mom.
Kathy Arnold writes on her page that she is a “mommy first” and a “cancer survivor second.”
4. Howard’s Favorite Job Was Working at Jimmy Johns
According to her obituary, Howard was born on June 9, 1991, Ottawa, Kansas to Howard Gunn and Kathy Daugharthy. Howard was a graduate of Gardner-Edgerton High School, class of 2009. The tribute adds, “She was recently a cashier at the 7-Eleven in Olathe, but her favorite job was working at Jimmy Johns.” Howard attended Williamsburg Methodist Church in Williamsburg, Kansas and “was a very happy person to be around.”
In high school, Howard was the choreographer for the school’s dance team as well as an accomplished pianist, not to mention playing the flute and saxophone. The obit continues, “Music was a very crucial part of her life. She was always at east playing music.” In September 2017, Kathy Arnold told the Kansas City Star, “Do they know she was an honor roll student (in high school)? Do they know she was in band? She was an accomplished pianist. She could play anything you put in front of her.”
Howard’s obituary says she was predeceased by two of her brothers.
5. Nearly 1,000 Americans Were Killed by the Police in 2017
According to the Washington Post’s database, 987 people were killed by police in the United States in 2017. The database says that in a quarter of those cases, mental illness played a role. Speaking on Howard’s shooting, Rick Cagan, the director of the Kansas office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness said in an interview with the Star, “If there is some doubt (about forcing an arrest), what is the hurry? Why do we have to serve a warrant now? We ought to look at protective measures to keep this from happening.”