Victim's mother questions Alton Police account of shooting


by staff

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 5:19 PM

ALTON, Ill. ( – Police say a woman killed in north St. Louis County during a struggle with an Alton, Illinois police officer shot herself.

Alton Police Chief David Hayes said the female prisoner, identified as Stephanie Hicks, was being transported by an Alton officer to Christian Northeast Hospital for mental services when a struggle ensued.

Police said during the struggle, Hicks grabbed the officer’s gun and shot herself in the head.

But Thursday, Hicks’ mother Robbin spoke out, questioning the story. According to her, Hicks was shot in the back of the head, and she has doubts about what happened in the squad car.

“How would she get shot in the back of the head?” Robbin asked. “I don’t believe the Alton police, and there’s nothing they can say to make me believe it.”

Robbin says her daughter was trying to get help for mental illness when she set out walking with her boyfriend to Christian Northeast Hospital Wednesday morning, nine miles away.

Hicks had set out to walk to Christian Northeast Hospital Wednesday morning. Family friends say her boyfriend called police to try and get her to turn around.

But police say Hicks was insistent on going, and given the triple-digit heat this week, the officer was granted permission to give her a ride as a courtesy. EMS cleared her for the trip.

During that ride, Hicks reportedly never spoke, then caught the officer off guard when she grabbed the gun holstered on his hip and shot herself in the head.

“We carry glock handguns, when they’re removed from their holster, there is no external safety on them, you pull the trigger, the gun discharges, it’s that simple,” said Alton Police Chief David Hayes.

Hicks was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Friends say Hicks was mentally unstable and bi-polar.

Police said the Alton officer involved in the shooting, a 13-year veteran, was not injured.

When asked why Hicks was allowed to sit up front with the officer and not in the back, Chief Hayes explained that this was not a custodial situation. Since Hicks was not a prisoner, she was not required to ride in the back.

“It was an unexpected move by her. The officer didn’t perceive her as a threat. She’s a 5-foot-1-inch, 100 pound girl and no one in their right mind would perceive her as a threat,” he said.

After the shot went off in the squad car, the officer triggered his emergency lights, which switched on cameras in the car.

Per policy, the officer is on paid administrative leave while Hick’s death is under investigation.

Her mother says she’s looking for an attorney.