A Georgia medical examiner confirmed that Malecia Hines was killed by her deranged mother, rather than by any bullets fired by police officers at the scene in Atlanta. Police had responded to calls on November 28, when local residents expressed concern over the mother’s mental state and treatment of her children.
Two Atlanta law officers went to the home of Carulus Hines (40) and saw the woman repeatedly stabbing the helpless 4-year-old girl. According to a police spokesman, when Hines refused to desist, the officers opened fire with their service pistols and fatally shot the woman. Hines daughter, Malecia, was in her mother’s arms as the shooting ensued. However, the Fulton County Medical Examiner confirmed that the cause of the tot’s death was a combination of asphyxia and multiple stab wounds.
According to a statement by the medical examiner, Carulus Hines died of multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and lower limbs. According to CBS, the police fired 10 to 16 times.
On the day of the tragedy, Hines’s son, Avery, was seen to escape from a window in the home. Avery is now in the state’s protective care. Georgia’s Department of Family and Children's Services has confirmed that case workers had seen the deceased girl and made a file. There is now an ongoing reviewer of DFACS involvement with the family. It was Avery, escaping an attack by his mother, who ran to a nearby house to ask for help.
Responding to a 911 call, officers broke into Hines’s home. They saw the woman stabbing Malecia in the neck. When Hines refused to stop, they opened fire. An Atlanta law officer was shaken by mayhem. A detective said little Malecia's "whole face was wrapped in scotch tape...I've supervised more than 1,200 murders and this was a first for me. There was moisture behind the tape, some air was getting through. The girl was still alive, gasping for breath, when the mother started stabbing her."
The two officers on the scene reportedly fired approximately 17 rounds from their service pistols. The Atlanta police department, as have many other US law enforcement agencies, purchased Smith&Wesson semi-automatic pistols for their officers. In 2008, Atlanta bought 1900 of Smith&Wesson’s M&P40 pistols for lawmen. Ammunition typically used by police ranged from 9mm parabellum to .45 calibre. Pistols for these sizes of ammunition can carry from 10 to 17 rounds. Such pistols can deliver a bullet for each time the trigger is pulled, in rapid succession.
The ammunition used can also have a bearing on whether the person who is shot is killed, or wounded severely enough to be stopped. The larger the calibre of the bullet, and the type of metal used, makes for greater stopping power. Hollow-point bullets, which are limited to police use, cause massive tissue damage upon striking a victim. Since these bullets distort and flatten within tissue, they maximize tissue damage and also expend their kinetic energy in the victim. Bullets made of stronger alloys would pass through. Since hollow-point bullets fragment upon entering human tissue, they limit the collateral damage to persons not targeted. Since they fragment, hollow-points are less likely to penetrate walls and floors and thus injure innocents. No report has emerged concerning the type of pistol or ammunition used in this case.
According to various reports, Carulus Hines had shown signs of mental distress in the days before her death. Her mental state at the time of death may have had a bearing on whether she felt the impact of the bullets fired sufficiently so as to stop stabbing her child.
Neighbors attest that in the days and weeks before the fatal incident, Hines would wail in the yard of her home calling out to God and Jesus. She was unemployed, and did not provide basic necessities for her children. Neighbors believe Hines’s husband is confined to a prison in Maryland. Lela Smith, who lived near Hines, reportedly said Hines’s two children go to her house by themselves and had started calling her "Grandma." Said Smith, "At times there wasn't no water" at the Hines home, "at times there wasn't no lights," Smith said. "I let 'em come up to cook, let 'em come over and wash." Sobbing, Smith said "Well, I'm so hurt over it, I just can't hardly talk about it."
Another neighbour, Charles Harris was also shaken by the bloodshed. "I think she just snapped," he said. "'Cause she was by my house [Sunday] around 9:30 saying nine demons come out of her. Nine demons. [She said] that she had been possessed." The owner of the house rented by Hines, Miyoshi Hill, declared that she had been letting the family live in the house rent-free. Sobbing, Hill said that she allowed Hines to live in the property rent-free. Hill said, "Her daughter was a disabled child. She has Downs syndrome... Things were just really hard for her, I guess." Hill said of Hines, “She had some issues like she was battling against herself, herself against everything that she was dealing with, mentally. She was trying really hard, I guess, taking care of everything by herself." Hines was apparently taking classes in order to improve her job prospects.
The two officers involved in the shooting are now on administrative leave, pending an investigation.