LAPD Deputy Chief testifies in Morgantown wrongful death trial

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV) -- A Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief and patrolman Lou Reiter testified in the wrongful death trial of a woman shot to death by Monongalia County Sheriff’s deputies in 2015.

45-year-old Christie Cathers was shot to death during a pursuit involving Monongalia County Sheriff’s deputies. The sheriff’s office said that two deputies were responding to a report about someone brandishing a knife. Cathers attempted to flee the scene, later driving her vehicle toward a deputy and striking a sheriff’s cruiser. Deputies fired into the vehicle, killing Cathers.

Reports indicate the trial over Cathers' death began Monday. The attorney for Cathers’ estate argues that Cathers died as the result of “a series of negligent acts out of poor training,” while a lawyer with the Mon County Sheriff’s Office says the deputies “did what they had to under dangerous, evolving and uncertain circumstances."

Reports indicate that on Thursday morning, LAPD Deputy Chief and patrolman Lou Reiter testified, stating that West Virginia was one of three states that did not participate in a 40-hour crisis intervention training designed to better prepare law enforcement for dealing with people that may be emotionally disturbed.

Reiter also stated that MECCA 911 operators would have had access to the NCIC database, where Cathers had been reported missing and dealing with a potential emotional disturbance the day before the pursuit. Not relaying that information to deputies, Reiter said, likely was some level of negligence.

In a cross-examination, a defense attorney asked how qualified Reiter was to judge negligence, as he was inexperienced in a 911 call center, had been absent from law enforcement since 1981 and had exited from full-time patrol work over 50 years ago.

Witnesses reportedly testified Thursday that Cathers was acting erratically, and threatening at in the hours before her death. Cathers had reportedly tried to convince teenage boys to get into her car at knifepoint.

Lt. Marcia King reportedly took the initial missing person’s report on Cathers, and stated that the family had reported Cathers had been misdiagnosed with mental problems, before learning it was a heart problem.

Testimony in the trial will continue next week.