STOCKTON (CBS13) — Several Stockton residents criticized the police at Tuesday’s city council meeting, demanding answers as to why hostage Misty Holt Singh died on July 16th after being taken hostage by three armed robbers. Singh’s family is also investigating the actions police took to try to save her.
Singh was a customer at the Bank of the West on Thornton Avenue. She and three other women were forced at gunpoint to go with the robbers. Two hostages were either pushed or jumped from the SUV, but Singh was still in the vehicle when officers exchanged fire with her three kidnappers. Singh did not survive.
“The basic tenant of law enforcement is to protect. In that tenant, there’s a fundamental principle called the ‘priorities of life,” said Singh family attorney, Gregory Bentley. “In that principle, the first priority is always the hostage. Second are bystanders. Third are the police officers themselves. The fourth are suspects. We know Misty was in the vehicle as a hostage. Unfortunately, her life was taken.”
Chief Eric Jones said his officers had multiple, and at times, conflicting public safety responsibilities.
“Are they going to take additional hostages? Go into a school?” said Jones. “Its important. They had to be stopped, so they don’t put rest of community in danger, but to say one life over another life is not necessarily so easy.”
Jones said the whole department is saddened over Singh’s death and he has met with the family.
As for the surviving suspect, Jaime Ramos, the chief won’t say if he’s cooperating with investigators. Police identified all three suspects as Norteno gang members. Detectives are still trying to determine the real motive for the robbery.
“An important aspect of this is whether it was for furtherance of than gang or if they were affiliated with the gang, but also doing bank robberies.”
The department is still searching for a fourth suspect, who drove the armed robbers to the bank. So far, more than fifty people have called in tips.