Slain Woman's Family Says Death Was Tragedy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/23/03

Slain Woman's Family Says Death Was Tragedy

Forida Barton is Darlene Edwards's mother.

"She had seizures and took medicine for that and all that and why did they shoot her down like a dog?"

That's only one question Edwards's family says they want the Jackson County Sheriff's Department to answer. Edwards's family says the mentally ill woman did hold a knife to her mother's throat on the morning of October 20th. But Forida Barton says her daughter let her go before deputies got to their home in Latimer.

"I was outside on the steps and they knew I was out and they did go in anyway."

Edwards's brother, Loren Barton, says, "To kick the door in and shoot her like they did, I feel like they let her die."

A grand jury ruled when the deputies went in, Edwards came at them with a knife and the deputies shot her four times. But Edwards's brother says she had an injured knee and wouldn't have been able to move very fast.

Harold Barton says the deputies knew about his sister's history of mental illness.

"A year or two years prior to this, in October, the same thing happened where she was in the bathroom locked up with a knife, but they didn't kill her then. They negotiated with her."

That's something Edwards' brothers say the deputies didn't do this time. They say Edwards was denied immediate medical attention after the officers shot her four times and she was restrained in ankle and handcuffs. According to the ambulance report Edwards was combative.

Harold Barton says, "No negotiations or attempts for her life seemed to be made. Darlene's death has been very trying on her family and Christmas will be especially hard cause Darlene loved this time of year."

Edwards's loss makes her family more determined to find out why she was gunned down.

"We want justice for why she was killed. Why the Jackson County Sheriff's Department mishandled this dispute. Why are the officers that shot and killed her allowed to remain protecting the public," says Harold Barton.

Mike Byrd referred our questions to the Mississippi Highway Patrol and District Attorney Keith Miller.

Miller says, "The testimony to the grand jury came from the brother, the mother and a family friend who were there. From the testimony I can only assume, they, the jurors thought the officers acted in self defense."

When asked if they are considering legal action against the sheriff's department, the family would say only they're investigating that option.

byMarcia Hill

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