WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A fight with a boyfriend ended with Wilmington Police shooting and killing a suicidal woman in late January.
Today District Attorney Ben David and Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the officer who fired the shots was justified.
Less than one month shy of her 22nd birthday, Grace Lousie Denk, a former Marine, was shot four times by a Wilmington Police officer killing her.
“I had her birthday present on my dresser,” Denk’s sister Annie Babbit said in an exclusive interview with WWAY.
It was a birthday present Denk would never see.
Police say Denk and her boyfriend were arguing Jan. 28 when she drove away from his home upset and drunk.
After receiving several texts from Denk saying she wanted to kill herself and that she had a gun, the boyfriend called 911.
“It’s my ex-girlfriend,” he told an operator. “She ran out of the house. I think she’s going to kill herself.”
Police were only on scene for two minutes before shots were fired.
Babbitt says her little sister dealt with depression after returning from Afghanistan, but she did not think Denk would have actually killed herself.
“I think if they had taken more than a few minutes with her, and even if they had tried to talk with her, you know, instead of coming up to her, pointing a gun at her, and kicking her door, I think any gesture would have helped. anything except for what they did,” Babbitt said.
The family’s attorney, Katy Parker, says if the officers involved had crisis intervention training, the outcome may have been different.
“The right person could have saved her life, and it’s so sad that that wasn’t even attempted. It wasn’t even tried,” Parker said.
Parker says there is a serious question as to whether Denk actually pointed her gun at officers, but Evangelous and David say it did happen and was enough to justify the shooting.
Parker says she and Denk’s family are discussing the next steps in finding justice for Denk, including possibly a civil lawsuit against WPD.
Chief Evangelous says the department is ramping up its crisis intervention training.