Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Shooting victim warned dispatch of guns

Tapes offer insight into police standoff

October 10, 2006


A woman shot and killed last month in an armed standoff with police warned dispatchers she had two guns in her trailer and demanded to speak with two specific officers who were unavailable, according to dispatch recordings.

It's clear from the recordings that Marsha L. Mace called 911 herself more than once during the standoff to make demands and warn police to stay away.

"If officers go to the back, she's willing to shoot," a dispatcher tells officers at one point during the standoff involving Mace at Mobile Village, 110 N. Michigan St.

The city played some, but not all, parts of the radio communications from the Sept. 24 shooting for a Journal-World reporter on Monday in response to an open records request. More of the recordings are expected to become available in coming days.

But the city has denied the Journal-World's request for access to the Lawrence Police Department's investigative report of the shooting, citing an exception to open-records law for criminal-investigation records. Even though Police Chief Ron Olin has said the shooting appeared to be justified - and an internal review found none of the department's procedures were violated - the case still must go to Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's office for review as to whether the shooting was legally justified.

Scott Miller, a city attorney who represents the police department, said he would not authorize releasing the report before the DA's review was finished.

An LPD detective, Troy Squire, shot and killed Mace around 1:23 p.m. after a roughly four-hour standoff. Police have said that Mace came out of the trailer firing a handgun and that they believe she was trying to get officers to kill her.

According to dispatch records, the incident began at 8:54 a.m. that day with a call to check Mace's welfare. Police have said her mother raised concerns about Mace's welfare, but a printout of computer-aided dispatch records say the call to 911 first came from her boyfriend.

The printout, which contains a dispatcher's typed summary of the incident, says the boyfriend had talked to Mace about 10 minutes earlier, couldn't reach her and heard a commotion in the background.

The first officer to arrive at the trailer, Kresten Spurling, was dispatched at 9:01 and got there at 9:07 a.m., according to dispatch records.

Around 9:30 a.m., an officer's voice on the radio says, "I got a code 2 (white female) that came out brandishing a handgun. This is after I heard a shot inside the trailer while I was knocking on the door. She came out screaming that she wanted to speak to (LPD officer) Dave Hummell."

'Signal one'

Shortly after that, the dispatcher tells officers that Mace has called 911 and warned that she's "signal one times two" - or armed and dangerous with two weapons. "If officers go to the back, she's willing to shoot," the dispatcher says.

The recordings and dispatch printout touch on some of the troubles in Mace's life: She'd recently been diagnosed with brain tumors, she tells a dispatcher, and her house has been foreclosed.

It also mentions a family member's concern, relayed to dispatchers, that Mace drank a lot of alcohol, and her boyfriend's concern that when he last talked to her she was looking for medication.

Officers begin talking to her through a public-address system, but around 9:45 a.m., she calls 911 again to ask that officers stop talking to her through the PA.

"She's now advising she would talk to officer Hummell or officer (Todd) Polson, but she's not going to speak to anybody else," the dispatcher says.

A supervisor at the scene answers that the department is not in contact with either officer, "so she needs to come out and speak to us."

LPD spokesman Sgt. Dan Ward said Monday that police made efforts to contact both officers. According to the dispatch records, Polson eventually was dispatched to the scene, but not until 4:03 p.m., hours after the shooting happened.

Hummell is not listed in dispatch records as having been at the scene.

Waiting for answers

Mace's sister, Marketa McKenzie, a former LPD records employee, said she didn't know why her sister may have demanded to speak with either officer.

"I think she may have been friends with them," she said. "I'm pretty sure she was friends with Dave Hummell, but I don't know about Todd Polson."

LPD spokesman Ward said, "We never did find out the answer as to why she wanted to speak to them."

Another shot was fired in the home around 12:30 p.m. Police have said that Mace emerged from the home around 1:23 p.m. and began firing at two officers.

Around that time on the dispatch tapes, an officer can be heard saying what sounds like, "She's at the door," followed by a word that sounds like "shot."

Moments later, an officer says, "We've got a subject down."

McKenzie, Mace's sister, said she does not know more details than what have been released publicly about the shooting.

"All I hear is hearsay," she said. "Every question I ask, they say, 'We just can't say anything until after the investigation is complete.' ... I'm ready to find out exactly what happened. Just for my own peace of mind, I need to know."


doc1 11 years, 5 months ago

So is there a complaint here? Scott Miller said he would not authorize releasing the report before the DA's review was finished. Thats normal in any police department. Sounds like the Gerbal World is trying to twist and turn stories out of something thats exactly what it is. A done deal, cut and dry. And who cares if she was asking to talk to two specific Officers. If they weren't working and couldn't be reached on their days off thats too bad.

topflight 11 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence Urinal world, back off. You jackasses are just trying to make something out of nothing. You disgust me. She showed intent, and the officer did what he had to do.

gerbilsniper 11 years, 5 months ago

If every procedure was followed and no law was broken...then why didn't they release the record?

hockmano 11 years, 5 months ago

Don't most police departments have some sort of mediators who help out in these situations? Seems like even though she was in an emotionally disturbed state she could have been talked through the whole thing. Did they really do everything to help this woman? Or did they just want her to come out no matter what happened? Obviously, if she shot at officers they had no choice but to return fire, but I guess I am wondering if there was another way to handle this entire situation.

craigers 11 years, 5 months ago

Hindsight is 20/20 and it seems arm chair quarterbacks have an even clearer picture.

cutny 11 years, 5 months ago

LPD spokesman Ward said, "We never did find out the answer as to why she wanted to speak to them."

Huh? "Never" is a pretty definitive word. I wonder if and who they asked? Seems to put a few holes in the "suicide by cop" slogan they've bandied about. Nice work deathsquad.

planetwax 11 years, 5 months ago

This is so very sad. I do wish that the practice of calling human beings "subjects" would change. We all know the reason for doing this. Make up your mind LJW. Do you have to say, "An LPD detective, Troy Squire, shot and killed Mace around 1:23 p.m. ..." and then release a quote saying, ""Moments later, an officer says, "We've got a subject down.""? This is not unbiased reporting. This officer has enough emotional pain to live with, regardless of whether he believes he could have acted differently.

samsnewplace 11 years, 5 months ago

Eric an all time LOW for you and the JW. Pretty desperate for something to write about when you can't leave the family in peace. Hasn't everyone involved been through enough? Topflight, I couldn't agree with you more!

Steve Jacob 11 years, 5 months ago

We all know that from when she called 911 until she left the house, things should have gone better. After she left, with a gun drawn, the police did what it had to do.

mmmm1000cookies 11 years, 5 months ago

Through friends, I know of some additional info that would shed additional light on this. As Marcia negotiated with police, she was also talking to a very good friend of hers, someone that was trying to talk her through the situation. This friend actually got her to agree to come out, at the very end of the drama.

Then, as Marcia told police she was going to come out, one of the officers yelled to her:

"Be ready to wear cuffs 'cause you're going to jail for a real long time!"

There are other witnesses, but as I've been told, since I'm just returning to town after years away......

Everyone is too afraid of the dirty cops we have to actually say anything.

So I'm saying it here and hoping that someone will take up the cause in Marcia's memory.

No one should be threatened when they are in a suicide standoff.


Tammy Copp-Barta 11 years, 5 months ago

To mmmm1000cookies .. blah, blah, blah .. you hear .. your friends say .. whatever .. you weren't there so you really shouldn't be "reporting" ..

As for dirty cops .. hope you remember that next time you get into a situation you need their help .. wouldn't want you to wasting the rest of our taxpayer dollars calling dispatch for help!

Marcia had problems for as long as I knew her, which was most of her life. I'm sorry about what happened to her, wished she had chosen to just come out and get help, but that didn't happen. I really feel sorry for Lukas, Marketa, Jim and and the rest of the family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

craigers 11 years, 5 months ago

It's amazing how a depressed person comes out and shoots at the cops and then they are dirty cops for shooting back. Do you see how insane you all are if you think they are dirty for the actions they took. Just once, I wish you were all in that position or had a parent that was a cop that everyday could be faced with this situation. Then when it actually happened you might have the slightest hint of how difficult the decision of the cops was. Nobody goes to work hoping to shoot and kill somebody.

msunderstood 11 years, 5 months ago

lawrenceks66 are you a member of the LPD? If not you know that the dirty cops are never ther when you need them.

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