MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The fourth morning of the wrongful death suit connected to the 2015 deputy-involved shooting death of 45-year-old Christie Cathers featured a rapid-fire list of witnesses for the defense before lunch.
Cathers, killed on June 5, 2015 following a short pursuit with Monongalia County Sheriff’s Deputies, was reportedly acting erratically, strange, and sometimes threatening, at least three witnesses testified Thursday morning. The defense, led by Cy Hill and Alison Subasz, brought the witnesses forward to account for the actions of Cathers’ final hours before the shooting. A missing person’s report was filed with the NCIC database one day prior, but on June 5 Cathers attempted to convince a car-load of teenage boys to get into her car, reportedly at knife point.
Testimony also indicated she had been “blaring the radio and dancing” in the driveway of a South Pierpont Drive home, possibly armed with a knife. The witnesses testified they had never met the women, reportedly Cathers, before that day. They said she was a “pretty woman” dressed in a black dress.
Earlier Thursday morning, Los Angeles PD former Deputy Chief and patrolman Lou Reiter testified that West Virginia was one of three states that did not participate in Crisis Intervention Training, a 40-hour training that better prepares law enforcement for dealing with those potentially dealing with the emotionally disturbed.
Additionally, Reiter said MECCA 911 operators would have had access to the NCIC database, which would have shown that Cathers was a missing person dealing with a potential emotional disturbance — not someone wanted for a crime. Failing to relay that information to deputies, he said, likely constitutes some level of negligence.
Reiter was the final witness called to the stand by the plaintiffs before resting Thursday morning. In a cross-examination, defense attorney Cy Hill called into question how qualified Reiter was to judge the “negligence” of the MECCA 911 radio operators, citing Reiter’s inexperience in a 911 call center, his absence from full time law enforcement since 1981, and his exit from full-time patrol work occurring more than 50 years prior to Thursday’s testimony.
Lt. Marcia King, who took the initial missing persons report on Cathers, said family had reported to her that Cathers had recently been misdiagnosed with having “mental issues” before later learning it was a heart problem. She had been taken off of psychotropic medication, and they believed it had caused a nervous breakdown. She also said the family had informed her that they believed Cathers intended to harm herself.
Testimony will pause in observance of Veterans Day on Friday, but will resume early next week. Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday.