As state authorities continued their investigation into Dane County’s third fatal officer-involved shooting in as many weeks, officials on Monday identified the woman killed by Madison police officers early Sunday morning.
Ashley DiPiazza, 26, was shot to death by two officers in her apartment on the 1100 block of MacArthur Road on the city’s Far East Side, according to the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Officers were called to the apartment around 1:20 a.m. on Sunday for a report of a domestic disturbance, police said.
They found DiPiazza armed with a semiautomatic handgun and spent about 30 minutes talking with her, Police Chief Mike Koval said. At one point, Koval said, DiPiazza presented a threat to the officers and she was shot.
A woman answering a Cottage Grove phone number associated with DiPiazza told a State Journal reporter she did not have any comment.
The shooting was the second involving Madison police officers this month, and the third involving Dane County authorities in the same time period.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot Dean A. Caccamo, 50, on May 1 after he allegedly stabbed a deputy and a lieutenant inside his parents’ town of Primrose home.
The next day, at least one Madison police officer shot and killed Londrell Johnson, 33, after authorities said he stabbed two people to death in an East Washington Avenue apartment.
All three incidents are under investigation.
State agency leading probe
Madison police referred questions about Sunday’s shooting to the state Division of Criminal Investigation, which is leading an inquiry into it after a new state law requiring outside agencies to lead investigations into officer-involved deaths.
Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, declined Monday to answer questions.
“While the investigation is open, I do not expect DCI to be making any comments,” Brueck said.
Koval said he is concerned about the cumulative emotional toll on the department from having two fatal shootings in 16 days.
The department is “doubling down” on resources to support the officers involved in the incidents, he said.
Koval also acknowledged the risk that two people being killed by police officers in the space of a few weeks could erode public trust in the department.
But with an outside agency leading the inquiries into both shootings, Koval said those who might be skeptical of police should know the incidents are being investigated fairly.
“The oversight is well thought out and taken care of,” he said. “I would hope that that would be some solace to those that would otherwise doubt or mistrust the system.”
Dealing with multiple shootings in a narrow time frame is a rare challenge but not without precedent locally.
Sheriff Dave Mahoney led the Dane County Sheriff’s Office during three fatal shootings by deputies over three months in 2010, two of which came eight days apart.
In getting his department through the shootings and responding to public scrutiny, Mahoney said the key was keeping people informed about what was happening.
“Where we run into problems is when we don’t share information,” he said. “That breeds rumor and innuendo and skepticism and suspicion.
“We’ve tried to avoid that by being forthright and transparent.”
Officer-involved shootings have not been historically common in Dane County, with just four fatal shootings in the 1990s and one in the 1980s, according to State Journal archives.
One reason they are becoming more frequent, Koval said, is that the people involved — whether they are suffering from mental illness, in the case of the May 1-2 shootings, or involved a domestic violence incident, as appeared to be the Sunday — have been armed.
When police confront a person who has a knife or a gun, and who poses a threat to officers or the public, the list of options they have for handling the situation is a lot shorter than it would be if the person weren’t armed, Koval said.
“The whole measure of the call becomes more lethal, because we have to be able to stop that threat in the most immediate way possible,” he said.