Mentally Ill Teen Girl Shot Dead By Three Cops In Police Station Lobby

On Thursday night, 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard was fatally shot by three Texas Longview police officers – right in the lobby of the Longview Police Department.

Coignard arrived at the station just before 6:30 pm and requested to speak to an officer using the station’s after-hours courtesy phone. Shortly after, Coignard was killed after being shot “multiple times” by the three officers. She was declared dead after being taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Photo Credit: Kristiana Coignard Facebook

Photo Credit: Kristiana Coignard Facebook

According to police, Coignard “came at the officers” when they arrived in the lobby. During the confrontation, the teen brandished a weapon, causing the police to draw their guns and shoot Coignard four times. After the shooting, officers came from all over the city to help secure the crime scene – which was a relatively empty station when Coignard was shot.

Police spokeswoman Kristie Brian said:

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“Some of the officers were called to the station because they had to have officers to secure the scene. I am sure whenever they heard shots fired, officers are going to come running anyway.”

“At that time of the day the only people in the building usually are the person who works the desk, the civilian who answers calls, and then there are a few public safety communications people. Then, if you have any officers in the PD. Other than that, no other civilian employees are at the PD at that time.”

There is still so much mystery surrounding this case, and an investigation is being done by Texas Ranger Brent Davis. It is unclear what weapon Coignard had brandished at the officers. Longview Mayor Jay Dean has claimed that the weapon was a knife – yet both the Longview Police Department and Texas Rangers insist they cannot “confirm the type of weapon Coignard brandished at the officers.” The remaining details – such as why Coignard wanted to speak to an officer, the words she exchanged with the police dispatch, what exactly happened during the confrontation, and the events that followed – have not been released by officials yet.

Photo Credit: Kristiana Coignard Facebook

Photo Credit: Kristiana Coignard Facebook

Heather Robertson, Coignard’s Aunt and caretaker right before her death, believes that her niece should still be alive and that the Longview Police Department are hiding something about the incident. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Robertson revealed that Coignard struggled with depression and bipolar disorder and had been hospitalized twice for attempting suicide within the last few years. In December, Coignard had been on medication for her mental illness and was regularly visiting a therapist. According to Robertson, Coignard was “only violent with herself” and had no criminal record. She said:

“I think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.”

Robertson was also told by a police officer that there was video footage of the incident, which spokesperson Brian confirmed – yet details are not being released. The biggest development thus far is that the three officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid leave on Friday.

Typically, police officers are not trained in handling individuals with mental illnesses. In 2012, approximately one in eight victims of police murder were mentally ill. In a 1984 study, it was found that individuals with psychiatric disorders were four times more likely to die from police encounters than individuals who were not mentally ill. Although the details of the Coignard incident have yet to be revealed, this case might be just another reason why police need to be trained on the appropriate actions to take when encountering mental illness.

Featured image courtesy of Kristiana Coignard Facebook