NYPD investigators Friday were trying to determine whether the fatal police shooting of a 23-year-old Brooklyn woman -- a carjacking suspect -- was accidental or intentional, a police spokesman said.
Shantel Davis, who was unarmed, was shot as she tried to drive away from officers about 5:40 p.m. Thursday in East Flatbush, according to police.
She was hit by one round from a detective's 9-mm handgun after he grappled with her over control of the steering wheel and stick shift, NYPD police spokesman Paul Browne said.
The detective and another officer in an unmarked car had noticed Davis driving erratically in a stolen Toyota Camry on Church Avenue, running red lights and ultimately colliding with a minivan on 38th Street, Browne said.
The officers approached the Camry on foot, and Davis tried to exit the car through the passenger door, he said.
"Police, don't move!" the detective yelled as he confronted Davis, his gun drawn, according to Browne and witnesses. "I have to get out of here," Davis said, then slid back over to the driver's seat, Browne said.
Browne said the detective entered the passenger side of the car and attempted to shut off the ignition. He managed to put the car into reverse, and Davis hit the accelerator twice, lurching the car backward each time, according to Browne.
The fatal shot was fired during the second backward lurch, Browne said. The other cop, who was standing outside the car, was thrown backward but remained on his feet.
The officers, who were not identified, were placed on administrative desk duty pending the outcome of the department's firearm discharge review.
The nonshooting officer has been interviewed and said he saw his partner struggle with Davis over control of the steering wheel and gear shift, Browne said.
Under NYPD rules, the detective who fired the shot cannot be interviewed immediately. The Brooklyn district attorney's office is working with police on the case, a spokesman for that office said.
The Camry was allegedly carjacked by Davis on June 5 in Brooklyn. Browne said she told the 58-year-old female victim, "Get out of the car or I will shoot you."
Davis had been due in court Friday to answer to charges stemming from an April 2011 robbery-kidnapping allegedly carried out with three men. The male victim was shot several times as he tried to escape, but survived, court records show.
Davis' attorney, Michael Colihan, did not return a telephone call Friday seeking comment.