St. Pete officer cleared in woman’s death
ST. PETERSBURG Pamela Dale Kirk did exactly what she said she would. “I’m going to get my gun and make you shoot me,” Kirk told St. Petersburg police officers one evening last month. The exchange ended with a St. Petersburg police officer fatally shooting the 53-year-old woman with a history of mental illness. In a three-page letter released Wednesday, Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe cleared Officer Christopher Dolch of any wrongdoing in Kirk’s death.Dolch shot Kirk April 28 after she pointed a gun at him through a window at her house. For Kirk, the evening began strangely. She asked a neighbor to take care of her dog and gave her an uncharacteristic hug, McCabe’s letter states. Knowing Kirk suffered from depression, had been taken into protective custody for psychiatric evaluations after threatening suicide and owned guns was enough for the neighbor, Donna Kober, to call police. Dolch and two other officers arrived at Kirk’s house, at 2630 13th Ave. N., and tried, along with Kober, to talk to her from outside; but Kirk cursed and yelled at the officers, telling them to leave her alone, McCabe’s letter states. While Dolch and Kober went to Kober’s house to get a key to Kirk’s house, the other two officers remained in Kirk’s front yard. Kirk opened the front door once, yelled out that she was not leaving, slammed the door and then opened it again. That’s when she said she was going to get her gun and force police to shoot her. Then she slammed the door again, according to McCabe’s letter. Dolch and Kober went to Kirk’s back door with the key, but every time Kober tried to unlock the door, Kirk immediately locked it again. They were starting to walk out of the backyard when Kirk pulled open the curtain by the back door and stood in the window. She was holding a revolver and mumbled something about a gun, McCabe’s letter states. Dolch shined the light on his gun on Kirk and saw her raise her gun and point the barrel at him, McCabe’s letter states. “Boom,” she said, and Dolch immediately fired his .45-caliber Glock three times. The weapon found at Kirk’s side was a fully-loaded Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolver. All three of Dolch’s bullets struck her. “When Pamela Dale Kirk pointed a firearm at Officer Dolch, he had reason to believe that his life and the life of Ms. Kober were in danger,” McCabe wrote. “The actions of Pamela Dale Kirk, coupled with her depression and past suicidal comments, lead to the conclusion that she was inviting her death by Officer Dolch.” One month before her death, on March 21, Kirk told St. Petersburg police she was going to provoke them to shoot her if she saw them – that “she would shoot them so they would have to shoot her,” McCabe wrote. A standoff was avoided when her then-roommate got involved, and Kirk fell asleep. Before that, she had been taken into protective custody under the state’s Baker Act three times after threatening suicide or attempting suicide, McCabe’s letter states. The last time she was committed, on May 2, 2012, it was Dolch who took her into custody after she called the 211 help line, saying she had taken 100 pills and drank alcohol. Kirk’s family declined comment on McCabe’s findings Wednesday.
A police department review board is also expected to consider whether Dolch’s actions were in accordance with department policy. The results of that review are expected later this month.