Police Murder-Suicides Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence

PoliceResidents of a Chicago neighborhood are mourning the loss of two neighbors this Easter Holiday. Javier Acevedo and his wife Veronica, both police force veterans, were killed in an apparent murder-suicide. The victims were found dead in their bedroom just after 5 am this morning. Police say the 911 call was made from inside the home prior to the shooting. This is the second murder-suicide this week involving police officers, and the news has raised awareness of domestic violence within law enforcement.

Investigators say Javier Acevedo appeared to have shot his wife before turning the gun on himself in their house in Garfield Ridge. Javier Acevedo was a corrections officer at the Cook County Jail, while Veronica Acevedo had served 18 years with the Chicago Police Department, and was described by co-workers as a model employee. Cook County Sherriff’s Office spokesperson Cara Smith called the incident “a tremendous tragedy.” Police were still investigating the homicide early this morning, and the medical examiner’s office has not yet released additional information.

The couple belonged to the St. Jane de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, and a local priest described them as “very committed, dedicated people … struggling to cope with the violence [of their work].” While details have not been confirmed and police have not identified a motive, the suspected murder-suicide of these two Chicago police officers will hopefully raise awareness of the domestic violence issues within law enforcement.

Less than a week ago, two Indianapolis Police Officers were found dead in another apparent murder-suicide, after Narcotics Officer Ryan Anders broke into his ex-wife’s home and shot her in the torso repeatedly before turning the gun on himself. A SWAT team was called to ex-wife Kimberlee Carmack’s home in Indianapolis at approximately 5:30 pm last Thursday following the attack. Carmack had been serving with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for 20 years, and sources say the couple was in the midst of divorce procedures, which Anders was having trouble dealing with. Carmack had a restraining order against her estranged husband, and both Carmack and Anders had been instructed to turn in their department-issued weapons as part of a domestic violence investigation that had them both on administrative leave. IMPD Chief Rick Hite said the department had been following protocol to keep Carmack safe. Carmack had been given a safe place to go, and Ander’s was receiving counseling for mental-health issues. Hite confirmed that the department had a close eye on both officers, who were checked-in with daily. However, Hite says on Thursday Carmack decided to go back to the home she once shared with Anders, where Anders showed up and shot her multiple times before fatally shooting himself. Rike Hite maintains that the department was protecting both Carmack and Anders, saying “due diligence was done by detectives in both cases.” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told reporters that the tragedy “hurts very, very deeply.”

The National Centre for Women and Policing has identified domestic violence cases involving Police officers as having “unique vulnerability,” citing two studies that have found at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, which is 30 percent higher than the general population. The findings indicate that reported domestic violence is more common among police families than it is in the general population. The same study suggests that colleagues may be more likely to show more tolerance towards domestic violence when it occurs within the police department, often seeking to protect the department from civil liability. The Centre also reports that the most common discipline for officers accused of domestic violence is counseling.

Following the latest reports of murder-suicides, IMPD Greif Counselor Catherine O’Connor expressed the need for raised awareness when it comes to domestic violence charges against police officers, saying “it’s tragic for everyone involved” and it is “frustrating because this is what [they] are trying to avoid.” O’Connor also stressed the importance of finding out what went wrong so it doesn’t happen in the future.

By Sandra Pugliese

Sources
DNAInfoChicago
SunTimes
ChicagoTribune
NationalCentreForWomenAndPolicing
WTHR

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