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Woman killed in shootout slipped cuffs, fired at officers from inside police car

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In a bizarre series of events, an Atlanta woman with a long police record began shooting at cops from the back seat of a police car where she had been detained.

According to a police report from Channel 2 WSB TV News in the Georgia capital, Atlanta police had placed the woman in the back seat of their squad car after finding her in a vehicle reported stolen.  She was also said to be in possession of drugs.  The entire episode took place near a popular tourist site near downtown Atlanta, shortly after 5 pm on Thursday, April 28.

Atlanta Police Major Darin Schierbaum told reporters in a New York Daily News article that gunfire had erupted from the rear of the police car, with at least two shots being fired through the rear window, creating a gaping hole.

The two patrol officers returned fire getting off three shots, according to witness Tressa Madden in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the city’s largest newspaper.  When the gunshots stopped, the police officers found the woman.  She was administered CPR and died at an area hospital police said.

It was not clear why the officers left the patrol car.  Also unsettled was whether the suspect was searched and handcuffed before the officers stepped away from their vehicle.  Police did not say, either, who owned the gun or where it was hidden before the gunshots took place.  One law enforcement official told WSB News that the cuffed woman must have freed herself.

No officers were injured in the incident.

The woman, later identified as Alexia Christian, had a long criminal record with multiple arrests.  According to the Huffington Post, these included “her eight busts in Fulton County (Atlanta) since 2006 … auto theft, selling marijuana, and shoplifting.”

Police were investigating whether the officers had handcuffed Christian, and where she had hidden the gun used to fire at the officers, an Atlanta police official told AP.  The officers have been placed on leave while the shooting is reviewed.

In contrast to other recent high-profile situations where an African American male died during an encounter with white police officers, the two officers involved in this shooting were black, a department official noted.  Another distinction: the alleged criminal was female and had fired a weapon.

“The Underground” where events unfolded is home to a variety of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.  “I think it’s crazy and it’s dangerous because you’ve got kids down here.  You’ve got innocent people walking the streets that don’t know what’s going on, and it shouldn’t happen like that here in Atlanta,” a witness told Channel 2, asking not to be identified.

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