More than two months after Placerville police killed a mentally ill woman who had commandeered an ambulance, much remains unclear about what happened to Linda Carol Clark.
Various agencies are investigating Clark's death, but none has released its findings to the public. An autopsy report has been completed, but authorities are refusing to release it to The Bee, saying it would compromise their probe.
Clark's death on March 28 stirred debate about whether police used excessive force against a woman who was mentally fragile.
Nine weeks later, advocates say they're frustrated over a lack of information on the events that led to the fatal shooting.
"It seems there were mistakes all the way around," said Cathy Hartrum, president of the El Dorado County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Had anyone along the way done a better job, this woman probably would not have been killed that day.
"The community needs to know what happened and needs to be confident that something like this never happens again."
Clark's father, Marty Hansen, told The Bee that he has been unable to obtain a copy of the autopsy report and is waiting for law enforcement and the District Attorney's Office, as well as agencies that license medical facilities, to release their findings.
In rejecting The Bee's request for the autopsy report, El Dorado County authorities cited government code that says records can be withheld if they would endanger the completion of an investigation. They declined to elaborate.
Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen has said that a multidisciplinary team would be investigating the incident, and the district attorney would decide whether the shooting was justified.
Clark, 39, of Folsom had a history of mental illness, and on the day she died she was being held against her will as a danger to herself or others. She was taken to the El Dorado County Mental Health Center in Placerville and later transferred to nearby Marshall Hospital.
Wearing only a hospital gown, she fled Marshall and stole an ambulance from a bay outside the emergency room. Clark led officers on a slow chase before pulling over into a steep driveway.
Nielsen said Clark smashed into police cruisers with her vehicle, then accelerated the ambulance toward an officer standing in front of her. The officer, Nick Maurer, fired five times, killing her.
Among the agencies investigating the matter is the California Department of Public Health, which licenses and regulates hospitals. Spokesman Ralph Montaño said the department had completed its investigation at Marshall and had forwarded it to the Centers for Medi-Cal and Medicaid Services for review.
Investigators for the state agency looked at hospital policies and procedures that may have played a role in the tragedy, Montaño said. If the hospital violated federal or state regulations, it could face fines or other penalties. The report will be made public after both agencies have gone over their findings with the hospital.
Read the full story at the Sacramento Bee.