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"It's just completely insane," said Edward Burns, who said he was a cousin of Smith's now living in New York City. "Apparently Heather was feeling suicidal, and my aunt Patti called 911 as a last resort to get some intervention because there was nothing left to do. She called 911 to save her daughter, and the result was quite the opposite."
Donley said Rohnert Park police officers recently participated in a countywide training for law enforcement on interacting with mentally ill patients.
Donley said Rohnert Park police did have protocols in place on how to treat suspects dealing with psychological disorders.
"In general, if someone is using deadly force against you, a Taser is not the weapon you could use," he said."
A woman shot and killed by a Rohnert Park police officer Sunday was armed with a straight-edge razor blade she refused to drop as she came at the officer, investigators said.
But a family member of 31-year-old Heather Smith, a single woman living in Rohnert Park with her mother and pre-teen son, said the shooting was the tragic conclusion of a desperate family seeking help.
The death is the second to involve a police officer in Sonoma County this year. In Santa Rosa, 24-year-old Jesse Hamilton, a mental health client, was shot by a Santa Rosa officer after Hamilton came at officers with a weapon.
In that case, a stun gun was initially used but failed to stop Hamilton, authorities said. It was unclear whether the Rohnert Park officer had access to nonlethal weapons in Sunday's incident.
The shooting also raises concerns similar to those surrounding the death of 16-year-old Jeremiah Chass a year ago. He was shot and killed in a struggle with two Sonoma County sheriff's deputies after he became psychotic and violent at his family's home.
As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty; equality and justice.
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature, or that is confided to me in my official capacity, will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of faith, and accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession - law enforcement.
Billings was shot three times in the chest by Officer Robert Lankford about 4 p.m.
Police said Rohnert Park public safety officers have responded to the home 29 times since 2004 for a variety of reasons, including previous disturbances involving Billings and her mother.
The officer opened the unlocked front door and found a woman holding a blade in her right hand. Her left arm was bleeding.
The woman moved toward the officer, still holding the blade, according to the statement. The officer ordered her repeatedly to drop the blade and stop advancing. But the woman would not stop, and the officer opened fire, said Sgt. Lisa Banayat, spokeswoman for the Santa Rosa Police Department.
But Smith said her daughter already had dropped the blade and wasn't threatening the officer when she was shot the first time. Billings collapsed and was shot twice more on the floor, her mother said.
Patti Smith, who lived with her 31-year-old daughter at Smith's Cornell Avenue home, said her daughter, Heather Billings, had removed the blade earlier that day from a disposable razor and was using it to carve gashes in her arms, prompting Smith to phone 911 for help.
In the living room where the fatal encounter took place, Smith said she bent down to retrieve the blade after her daughter dropped it. She said she then placed the blade on a glass-covered table at the Rohnert Park officer's instructions.
Santa Rosa police, who are investigating the shooting, previously described the item as a "straight-edged razor blade" and said Billings wielded it as a "weapon."
On Tuesday, a Santa Rosa police spokeswoman described the item as a 2-inch blade from a utility knife. She said the blade did not come from a shaving razor.
Family members were incensed that police described the item as a weapon, however, and insisted that it could not be perceived as a threat.
According to a police evidence log provided by the family, police seized two "razors" and three bullet casings after the shooting.