Despite being handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car, a 26-year-old woman managed to get one hand free and use a stolen gun to fire three shots at two officers, Atlanta police Chief George Turner said Friday.
Those officers weren’t hit, but both returned fire, hitting Alexia Christian in the car, parked near Underground Atlanta. Christian, a mother of two, died after being taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.
But Thursday wasn’t the first time Christian fought back while being arrested, criminal records showed.
When she was caught in a stolen car in September 2006, Christian got into the driver’s seat of a patrol car and drove off, dragging an officer with her, the police report states. The officer was thrown from the car and Christian was later arrested and convicted, spending three and a half years in state prison, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
This year, Christian was arrested in March by East Point police for allegedly selling marijuana, and by Atlanta police in January on a shoplifting charge, according to police and jail records.
But the two officers involved in the Thursday afternoon shootout, Jeffery Cook and Omar Thyme, may not have even known her name. The officers hadn’t gotten that far in the arrest before Christian started shooting, Turner said.
At 4:28 p.m. Thursday, Cook and Thyme were dispatched to 111 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. at the request of the Fulton County Police Department, Turner said. A white Ford truck was reported stolen from Fulton Industrial Boulevard, and the truck’s owner was able to track it to downtown Atlanta, he said.
The officers arrived at the location at 4:41 p.m., and nine minutes later, the two located the truck matching the description of the stolen Ford, Turner said. Inside the truck was a woman who matched the description of the suspect.
The woman, later identified as Christian, was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, Turner said. But she was not extensively searched, he said.
“It was clear to us the officer did not search her prior to putting her in the back of the car,” Turner said Friday.
Turner said it was not known whether the officers patted down Christian at all. As officers asked Christian her name, she fired three shots, narrowly missing the officers, Major Darryl Tolleson said Friday. Cook and Thyme “missed getting killed by an inch,” Tolleson said.
The officers returned 10 rounds, striking Christian, according to police. She was removed from the car and an officer began CPR on her until an ambulance arrived, witnesses said. Christian died after being taken by ambulance to Grady.
Turner said Friday the incident remains under internal investigation. Cook, 53, an 18-year veteran of the department, and Thyme, 33, who has been with APD for 10 months, were each placed on routine administrative leave, Turner said. Both are expected to provide statements for the investigation next week.
The incident was the department’s second officer-involved shooting this year.
Yuric J. Ussery, 22, was shot and wounded while fleeing police April 8 after two officers, who were part of a crime-suppression unit, tried to stop him for jaywalking in the Mechanicsville neighborhood. Instead, Ussery fled and the pursing officers said they shot him after he pointed a gun at them.
There were nine shootings involving Atlanta police officers in 2014, department spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said.
— Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this report.
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