Officers cleared in death of bipolar woman armed with ax

Photo of Gay Ellen Plack courtesy Cheryl Sherman
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WWBT) — Police have been cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a bipolar Virginia woman whose psychiatrist asked authorities to check on her.

Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor told reporters Monday that no charges will be filed against the two Henrico police officers, who haven't been publicly identified.

A 26-page report says 57-year-old Gay Ellen Plack, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, visited her psychiatrist the day before the September shooting. The doctor alerted police that Plack was acting uncharacteristically paranoid and refused to go to a hospital.

It says police knew of Plack's diagnosis and fear of law enforcement when they checked on her on Sept. 17 and were met with a swinging ax.

The report says four seconds elapsed between Plack's armed emergence from a dark bathroom and when the first shot was fired.

The Medical Examiner determined Plack’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the manner was homicide.

Taylor said two independent reports were done by separate Commonwealth’s Attorneys and her Henrico office, and all three concluded that there was no criminal liability on the part of the officers.
“While, therefore, no charges will be filed, this was a tragic circumstance and I reiterate my call for a review of mental health policies at every level, to include stakeholders at both the state and local levels, to try to avoid future tragic incidents," Taylor said in a release.

Henrico police also conducted a criminal investigation. Henrico police shared the criminal investigation with Virginia State Police for independent review earlier and their findings were released earlier in November.

“After its review, VSP acknowledged Henrico Police correctly identified all sources of information and thoroughly documented all relevant information from those sources in a manner that accurately reflects the facts of this case,” a release said.

Henrico police met with Plack’s son and his legal counsel to explain the findings and shared the body camera footage with them.