Published November 20, 2014
The mother of a Detroit woman shot and killed while dancing with an off-duty police officer questioned Monday why he would carry a loaded gun at a party in his own backyard.
Police said Adaisha Miller was dancing with the officer early Sunday morning when she hugged him from behind. His gun, which was in a waist holster, went off, and the bullet punctured Miller's lung and hit her heart. She died at a hospital.
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee described Miller's death during a Monday news conference as a tragic, "unfathomable" accident.
"Somehow, in the course of dancing with the individual to his rear and touching his waist, his Detroit Police Department-issued weapon discharged, striking Ms. Miller," Godbee said. "There is absolutely no indication that the officer placed his hand on his weapon at all."
Godbee implied contact from Miller appeared to have caused the gun to go off, but he stopped short of saying she pulled the trigger on the .40-caliber handgun.
The officer, 38-year-old Isaac Parrish, has been placed on desk duty while the case is investigated. There was no answer at his home early Monday afternoon. Godbee said Parrish is "very remorseful."
Miller was celebrating the weekend before her 25th birthday on Monday, said her mother, Yolanda McNair. She was invited to the Saturday night fish fry at Parrish's home by friends who knew him, McNair said.
"Why do you need a gun at your own house? Why do you need a gun at your own party?" she asked. McNair said she would be watching the police investigation closely.
Detroit police officers have the option of carrying their weapons while off-duty. The model issued by the department has a safety mechanism built into the trigger.
The Smith & Wesson M&P primarily was designed for police and military use. It does not have a safety switch, but the trigger has to be pulled back completely for the gun to fire, certified firearms instructor Rick Ector said.
Ector said that if properly holstered, the gun cannot be fired accidentally.
David Balash, a former Michigan State Police firearms examiner, said the investigation also should look at the gun's angle given that Miller was shot in the chest.
"What's going to be very important here is the angle of the entry of the wound to the victim (and) if there is in fact any gunpowder residue," Balash said. "I'm having a great deal of difficulty understanding how a weapon that's pointed at the ground can be turned literally 110 degrees minimum to be in an upward position to strike someone."
But Godbee said Parrish's waist holster was made of a soft, neoprene-type material, and it would be possible for the trigger to be pulled while the gun was in it. He also said the barrel direction typically would have been pointing down while holstered.
There still is "no justification" for her daughter's death, said McNair, 44.
"She didn't do anything wrong," McNair said. "She told us she was going to a party.
"I should have been baking my daughter her birthday cake."
The Wayne County medical examiner's office was to perform an autopsy.
Associated Press writer Mike Householder contributed to this report.