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Oceanside police chief's wife tells of standoff with Cypress police

Brinda Sue McCoy, who barricaded herself in her home and fired two shots, testifies about a suicidal spiral and says she never meant to aim at police. The prosecutor says she wanted to embarrass her husband.

June 13, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • Brinda Sue McCoy is accused of multiple counts of assault with a firearm on a police officer, a felony that could draw a 62-year prison term.
Brinda Sue McCoy is accused of multiple counts of assault with a firearm… (Cypress Police Department )

Hazy from a concoction of prescription pills and martinis, the police chief's wife said, she sat alone in her Cypress home listening to a Sarah McLachlan song — "Angel" — over and over as dark thoughts flooded her head.

Brinda Sue McCoy said she felt like a burden and pondered taking her own life. But she also admitted that she grabbed her husband's loaded service weapon, barricaded herself inside the family home and fired two shots after officers rushed the neighborhood.

The wife of the Oceanside police chief, McCoy is accused of multiple counts of assault with a firearm on a police officer, a felony that could draw a 62-year prison term. Authorities contend that she was aware she could have shot an officer during the standoff.

McCoy, 49, took the witness stand for the second straight day Tuesday and testified that she never meant to aim her gun at police.

"I would never say that I would shoot anyone, especially a police officer," she said, weeping as she testified in a Santa Ana courtroom. Even after her defense attorney finished his line of questioning and the jury had left the courtroom, she sat at the defendant's table crying.

McCoy is charged with six felony counts of assault with a firearm on a peace officer and one felony count of discharging a firearm with gross negligence in the Dec. 16, 2010, incident.

She testified that after dialing 911, she hoped a police officer would shoot and kill her. McCoy said she recalled an incident days earlier in which Long Beach police shot and killed a man wielding a garden hose nozzle. She said she figured she would meet the same fate.

McCoy testified that her suicidal spiral began after an argument with her husband and 17-year-old son. Her son, she said, came upstairs to apologize, but she was not satisfied and yelled at him. Her husband told her not to speak to her son that way and left the house with him before the incident unfolded.

Before and during the standoff, McCoy said, she called friends, a daughter and a nurse practitioner, telling them or leaving messages that she was sorry and which two songs to play at her funeral.

"Nobody would think twice if I died," she said she remembers thinking.

After officers arrived, McCoy, a nurse at a local hospital, said she wavered between wanting to die and wanting to sleep. McCoy said she'd taken a sleeping pill and anti-anxiety medication and consumed several martinis.

"I just felt like things were spiraling out of control and I just needed it to stop," she said.

She conceded that she was not thinking clearly and became increasingly agitated by a police officer shouting her name. But she said she also knew that an older son, a Long Beach police officer, had arrived on the scene and she wanted him to leave so he wouldn't see her die.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebecca Olivieri pointed out that a 911 tape captured McCoy telling police that she would shoot despite warnings that she could hurt an officer.

McCoy ended up hitting a truck and a parked Prius, her husband's service vehicle. Officers had taken position near both of the vehicles.

Olivieri suggested that McCoy was angry at her husband and considered the standoff a way to deal him the "ultimate embarrassment."

Though McCoy denied knowing that she shouldn't mix her medications, she said she felt ashamed that she, an educated woman, couldn't get through her depression. She said that in her house, mental illness wasn't talked about directly. Instead, she said, it was that "Mom's having a bad day."

"I knew the whole situation was embarrassing for my family," she said.

The standoff ended when McCoy eventually crawled to the front door. She was shot with a beanbag gun and arrested.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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