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According to a deposition by Tim Schwartzkopf, a PVPD captain who was at the scene, Kuder provided some oversight of the work that Taylor and Micheel were doing to engage Stuckey. Schwartzkopf could not recall what the department's other trained negotiator, Darrell Thompson, was doing.
The use of untrained negotiators during the standoff with Stuckey is, not surprisingly, being cited by experts hired by both the plaintiffs and the defendants in the civil trial against the PVPD.
Vincent Faggiano, a longtime officer with the Rochester, New York, Police Department, writes in his report to Stewart's attorney: "At best, Officer Taylor should have been engaged in this secondary role with Corporal Kuder as the primary negotiator. The failure to utilize Corporal Kuder in his trained role is not in compliance with accepted police procedures and diminished the opportunity to peacefully resolve this incident."
Steve Ijames, a 29-year law-enforcement veteran used by the PVPD's legal team as an expert, says in his report that a lack of negotiation training wasn't a critical problem in this case.
"[T]he information provided suggests that Ms. Stuckey was affected by mental illness and in a state of agitation that precluded productive dialogue," Ijames writes. "... [I]t is my opinion that had a trained negotiator been used, their efforts at a negotiated resolution would have had the same negative result as Officer Taylor['s]."
Believing that Stuckey might set her building on fire, police positioned snipers around the apartment complex. The snipers could see into Stuckey's apartment, and they reported seeing her appear to pour some kind of liquid onto the floor.
Police also moved to evacuate tenants. And it was then that a man, never identified in the records, told Lovett that his 90-year-old mother was in an apartment and had medical issues that would make her evacuation problematic.
This elderly woman seems to have weighed heavily in police decision making. But Lovett said in a deposition that he was never sure where this woman lived or what her condition was:
Q: Did you know if this woman was bedridden?
A: I don't know.
Q: On oxygen?
A: Don't know.
Q: Did anyone verify that that information was in fact correct?
Q: Did you ever ask anyone to go knocking on doors to see if they could find her and find out what the nature of her infirmity was?
Q: It was your impression that she lived very close to Susan Stuckey?
Q: How close?
A: I don't know.
Q: First floor?
A: I don't know.
Q: Same building?
A: Same building.
The OISIT canvassed the area after the shooting. Their report makes no reference to a disabled elderly woman who was immobile.
Stewart's lawyers note, in a recent court filing, that there was a 90-year-old woman living on the first floor of Stuckey's building but she had "readily" gone to a neighbor's apartment at 8:30 that morning an hour before the CIRT arrived.
Even so, the fire threat was serious enough to short-circuit discussion of getting a warrant before entering Stuckey's apartment.
Roberson said in his OISIT interview: "There was some talk about the warrant but because of, I think, the exigent circumstances of when she made the threat about burning the place down, I think that kind of took it to another level. I think we probably would have handled it more like a barricade and trying to negotiate a lot longer. Maybe even use some gas, which we had on the scene. But it didn't seem like that was gonna be something that we were gonna be able to wait for."