Florida police fatally shoot naked woman at party

Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP
Two off-duty Florida police officers have shot and killed a naked woman who confronted them at a party. Officers say the woman was armed, without disclosing what type of “weapon”, whether alcohol was involved or were the guns their service weapons.

Authorities say the shooting occurred at 1:15 pm Saturday in a house north of Tampa in rural Spring Hill, Florida. The off-duty officers were allegedly approached by what they said was an “armed, naked and irrational female,” according to a Hernando County news release. The woman had not been invited to the party and no one knew why she was naked. A partygoer called 911 to report the nude woman, who until then had refused to leave the party.

The woman then appeared to leave, but came back shortly thereafter, allegedly carrying a weapon. The officers then opened fire on her.

The news release provided detailed information about the course of events, but has no information on the alleged weapon the woman was carrying.

The officers, 26-year-old William Mechler and 31-year-old Rocky Howard, were off duty, but still carrying their firearms at the party. According to Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis, “one or both of the law enforcement officers fired their weapons, striking the female” because she was “acting irrational.”

“It was obvious being naked she was not in her right mind,” Neinhuis told Fox 13 News.

The woman died from her injuries at the scene.

The county sheriff’s department encourages officers to be armed 24/7, even while off-duty. Authorities have refused to comment on whether the firearms used by Mechler and Howard were personal weapons or service handguns.

According to Fox, police have not yet identified the woman.

A lot of questions surrounding the incident remain unanswered. Reporters from Tampa Bay Times tried to reach property owners of the house where the party was held, as well as Howard, but received no responses. Mechler refused to comment.

The two officers, who are believed to be friends, have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The shooting comes two weeks after the University of South Alabama campus police fatally shot a naked, unarmed student who was pounding on the glass door of the police station. Authorities claimed 18-year-old Gil Collar was high on LSD and tried to attack an officer. But an attorney defending the deceased student says Collar never touched the officer. A surveillance video of the fatal shooting shows the student with his arms outstretched and palms open seconds before being shot.

“I have seen nothing to indicate to me that you ought to go out there with a raised gun against a guy who’s buck naked, unarmed and in distress,” attorney Jere Beasley told the Associated Press.