Misty Holt-Singh, 41, had just run into the Stockton, California bank and left her 12-her-old daughter in the car for a quick transaction. In an instant, her life would change as Gilbert Renteria Jr., Jaime Ramos, and Alex Martinez came in to rob the bank. They took Singh hostage and fled in a car. However, the police were quickly on their tail and trapped the car. She may have had a glimmer of hope. After all, there were some 33 police officers surrounding the car. That is when the Stockton police opened up on the car and fired over 600 bullets — killing Holt-Singh, 41, and two of the bank robbers. The family is preparing to sue and saying that the response was excessive and ignored the hostage. Singh was hit 10 times — all from the guns of the police.
The bank robbers had taken Holt-Singh clearly as a human shield and led the police on a high-speed car chase in a car stolen from a bank employee. Witnesses say that Holt-Singh was crying and saying that her daughter was in the car and that she did not want her daughter to be traumatized by seeing her with the robbers. The three robbers could care less, of course.
Two other female hostages were thrown from the car. Holt-Singh was not so lucky.
Martinez (right) had robbed the very same bank just six months earlier. The police say that the men had fired from the car windows and an AK-47 was shown next to the car. Police say that the men fired 100 bullets. They responded with reportedly over 600, though the specific number has yet to be confirmed. What is notable is that 20 officers have been put on leave as a standard procedure in an investigation for officers who discharged their weapons. Police insist that they were concerned that other hostages could be taken or that the men could enter a business or a school. It is not clear if the men were on the move to justify such a fear and, if so, how Holt-Singh was shot. The accounts say that she and the men were shot in the car, which presumably was trapped and had had the tire blown out.
However, the family has raised questions similar to the Montesano case that we discussed earlier. The family is seeking more evidence in the case. The public is also entitled to know more about an incident where hundreds of rounds were fired by police into a car with at least one hostage. However, if as reported Ramos used her as a human shield. This does not necessarily mean that the shooting was unjustified but this is a case where total transparency should be the rule.
Many of these rounds were fired during the hour long chase that extended to 55 miles. The police fired a reported 600 bullets into the car that had originally a number of hostages and clearly had at least one remaining.
Jaime Ramos will now be charged with murder. While it was the police who killed Holt-Singh, he is criminally responsible for the death under a felony-murder theory.
Kudos: Michael Blott