ALLIANCE ‒ By all accounts, someone was going to die Sunday afternoon inside a cramped upstairs apartment on South Linden Avenue.
The only question was who?
It was George “Joe” Appleby or his live-in girlfriend, Anita Tucker.
That’s what Alliance police officers faced when they arrived to a domestic violence call shortly after 1:39 p.m. A neighbor in the three-unit, two-story building had called 911 to say Appleby had cut Tucker’s throat with a knife, then pulled her back inside from a balcony.
Just prior to that call, another neighbor, Naomi Brackin, who lives in the unit below, saw blood on the 68-year-old Tucker, as Brackin watched from the backyard underneath the balcony.
She knew Appleby had abused Tucker before — he was convicted of domestic violence last year — but this was scary.
“He said, ‘I’m gonna kill that bitch!'” Brackin recalled.
Christopher “Whitey” White, a friend of Brackin’s, scampered up the wobbly wooden outside staircase to the second floor to try to intervene. He pounded on the door Appleby had slammed shut on those below.
“Don’t do it Joe!” White yelled over and over. “Don’t do it!”
Police advance; Appleby retreats
Police arrived. Upstairs they went.
They smashed out a door window, unlocked it from the inside and entered, said Lt. Don Wensel. He said the 59-year-old Appleby still had the knife blade against Tucker’s throat.
And the 6-foot, 150-pound Appleby, well-known to police for violent-related incidents spanning a couple decades, was using the petite Tucker as a human shield of sorts against police.
“Trying to hide behind her … he kept backing up,” Wensel said.
Officers, Wensel said, told Appleby to drop the knife.
Instead, he backed up past the bathroom into a bedroom, where he closed and locked that door. Officers — five had arrived on the scene by this time — broke it open. Again, the blade was pressed against Tucker’s throat. Again, Wensel said, Appleby would not drop it.
An officer inside the room noticed a momentary bit of physical separation between Appleby and his shield, Tucker.
“He saw his opportunity and he took it,” Wensel explained.
The officer fired his gun, then fired a second time.
Appleby fell to the ground, and was later pronounced dead there.
Tucker said Appleby got what he deserved
Tucker was taken to the hospital where she received several stitches in two different areas on the front of her neck, and for other minor cuts. She spent Sunday night in Akron with her sister, before returning to Alliance on Labor Day, where she’ll stay with her neighbor, Brackin.
“I don’t wish death on anyone, but (Appleby) deserved what he got. … He paid for what he done to me,” she said.
Alliance police asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to investigate. Wensel said it’s department policy to turn over shootings involving officers to an outside third-party.
“This is the first one in my 19 years, though,” he added.
Wensel declined to identify the identity of the officer who fired. He has been on the department for about 2 1/2 years, and is on paid leave as per policy. Wensel said he’s watched body camera footage of the shooting.
“It all happened so fast,” he said.
Wensel said he’s pretty certain what would have happened to Tucker had the officer not shot Appleby.
“I think she would be dead,” he said.
Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 email@example.com.On Twitter: @tbotosRE
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Alliance police shoot George Appleby who cut girlfriend’s throat