Greenwood, IN – Officers fatally shot a woman on Tuesday night who led them on a high-speed police chase that ended when she pulled into the police station parking lot, smashed into numerous patrol vehicles, and then drove at officers.
The incident began just after 11 p.m. on March 29 when officers responded to a report of a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way near the intersection of Madison Avenue and County Line Road, the Associated Press reported.
Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said officers responded and found the suspect vehicle about a mile from where it was reported and a high-speed pursuit ensued, WTHR reported.
Chief Ison said the driver – later identified as 49-year-old Monica Vaught – struck a guard wire on a telephone pole as she fled, but was not injured.
The chase ended when Vaught led pursuing officers to the back entrance of the police station parking lot near South Washington Street and Surina Way, the Associated Press reported.
Officers blocked the entrances and exits to the parking lot as Vaught began to engage in a round of demolition derby with all the parked police vehicles in the lot.
Chief Ison said officers tried to “de-escalate the situation,” the Associated Press reported.
He said officers tried to box in her car, but Vaught rammed her engine and struck another squad car so hard that she moved it out of her way.
Vaught ignored all of the officers’ efforts to defuse the situation and drove her car back and forth slamming into police cars that were blocking her path, WTHR reported.
Then she stopped her car in the north end of the parking lot and began revving her engine.
Police said she next drove her vehicle directly at officers, WTHR reported.
Four officers opened fire on Vaught, the Associated Press reported.
“It is a 2,000-pound weapon,” Chief Ison told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. “… They tried to end it peacefully, but ultimately, their lives were put in danger and they had to react.”
Police said they didn’t know if Vaught had been struck by the initial gunshots because she continued driving around the parking lot for a few minutes after police shot at her, WTHR reported.
Officers rendered First Aid to Vaught until the ambulance arrived.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, WTHR reported.
Chief Ison said there is bodycam and surveillance video from the incident and investigators were reviewing all of it.
He said so far, it indicated that officers had followed department policies and procedures, the Associated Press reported.
Police confirmed that Vaught has had numerous encounters with the Greenwood police over the years, WTHR reported.
The four officers who fired at Vaught have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings, the Associated Press reported.
“It’s bizarre,” Chief Ison said. “I would love to know why, but we may never know why.”