The woman who was fatally shot by a police officer on Monday night had been upset about not getting a prescription filled, according to her boyfriend, a retired NYPD sergeant who was not home at the time. Susan Muller was killed after allegedly lunging at officers with a 10-inch kitchen knife.
Muller had apparently called 911 to report a female intruder with a knife in her Maspeth apartment. However, the NY Times reports, "The police had responded to nine 911 calls to the home since August 2000, officials said. Four of the incidents involved domestic violence, and three other times were about someone being intoxicated. Twice Ms. Muller was acting irrationally, the police said, including the most recent incident on Sept. 9th, when she was taken to a hospital for treatment."
The Times notes that officers from the 104th Precinct, who were familiar with Muller, were at a funeral on Monday: "The four officers who responded were from three nearby precincts helping out, and it was unclear if they had asked or been told by dispatchers about the history of police calls to the home, the police said."
The four officers arrived at the home, located at 52-14 69th Street, around 5:30 p.m. and were greeted by Muller, who said the intruder was in the second floor apartment. Less than a minute after entering the home to search for the intruder, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that Muller lunged at officers, prompting one officer to fire three times at Muller.
Body camera footage reportedly shows the torsos of the officers, not the shooting itself, and only has audio of the incident. "One of the cops was heard telling Muller to 'drop the knife,' at which point a female voice is heard screaming in the moment before officers fire three shots, officials said. Muller, who was struck multiple times in the torso, died at the scene despite CPR efforts by officers," according to AMNY.
Muller's boyfriend, Ed Rogers, didn't detail what kind of prescription Muller wanted, but had also described her as delusional. He told the Daily News, "It shouldn’t be a story about trigger-happy cops. it should be a story about the abuse and use of alcohol. I can't say that (if police should have hesitated more) because I wasn't there. It was so out of character for her to take a knife to someone. It's like, they have to make a split-second decision. And if they see a woman with a knife, or a crazy person, they wanna go home."
He said that Muller had been upset at him, so he left the home on Monday evening for a while, only to come back and find the police there and Muller dead.
The NYPD has been criticized for not taking proper care when responding to people with mental health issues over the years, resulting in their deaths.
In April, Saheed Vassell, a mentally ill man who was holding a metal pipe that was mistaken for a gun, was fatally shot in Crown Heights. Soon after, the Mayor announced a task force to "enhance coordination between the City’s safety and health systems," explaining, "In jurisdictions across the country, police are often the first to respond to people with behavioral health needs. The Task Force will develop multi-agency strategies which will allow better coordination between our health and public safety systems to better support these interactions."
Speaking to the Times, Rogers said, "I can’t understand how she would do something like that to a police officer when she was living with me and we were living off a police pension."