India M. Beaty a 25-year-old from Norfolk, Virginia was shot and killed by police on Saturday after officials say she made a threatening gesture towards the officer with a replica pistol.
Police told local outlet WVEC that undercover officers were staking out a parking lot as part of an unrelated investigation when they saw Beaty pull a gun on a man she was arguing with. The police who were undercover, but wearing vests that read “police” ended the stake out and gave Beaty “verbal commands.” When she refused and made a “threatening motion” with the guns, the officers took fire.
After shots were fired, police provided first aid in the attempt to save the young woman, but Beaty died at the scene. It wasn’t until later that the officers realized the pistol was a replica and completely harmless.
Beaty’s family spoke with the Virginia-Pilot and refuted the police claim that she brandished the replica gun. "She's very smart, very intelligent. I don't believe she was brandishing a weapon," one family member said. "Her automatic reaction would have been to drop and say, 'It's not real.' She would not have gone to jail over a toy gun."
The two police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative duty while the shooting is investigated.
Is Beaty the latest victim of police brutality against Black Americans, or were police justified in assuming she was a threat? Hopefully, the investigation will lead to some answers. But either way, the relationship between police and the Black community is at a low point in this country.
Watch presidential candidate Bernie Sanders discuss the root of police violence in America, below:
(Photos from top: WTKR, India M. Beaty via Facebook)