On December 30th, 2010, the family of Kimberly Carter honored Officer Jillian Smith, whom police in Arlington, TX say was gunned down trying to shield Carter’s 11-year-old daughter during a domestic disturbance call that turned violent. (The child survived the attack).
Police say that the shooter, 38-year old Barnes Nettles, allegedly killed Smith, Carter, and then himself after barging into his ex-girlfriend’s residence. According to the report, Nettles began shooting after Officer Smith took a domestic violence complaint from Ms. Carter, and had a long history of being violent towards Ms. Carter during their relationship.
According to the victim’s family, Carter had apparently dated Nettles in Washington state before they moved to North Texas to be closer to her family in Mansfield. But despite repeated appeals by her family to distance herself from Nettles, Carter remained in the relationship long after Nettles began displaying violent and controlling behavior.
“She thought he could change,” said Leah Richardson, Carter’s stepmother. “She thought he would change and she was trying to give him that chance.”
Only after she learned of Nettles’ record in Washington state–which included assault, burglary, and rape of a child–was Ms. Carter moved to end their ongoing relationship.
While undoubtedly tragic, the Carter family’s story is unfortunately a painful reminder of sagas that continue to play out across the US, and beyond. Even when women realize they are in a dangerous and abusive relationship, many feel trapped, isolated, or obliged to stay–sometimes out of fears for the safety of themselves or their children, or out of a sense of obligation to keep their families together.
For this reason, FVPC offers free and confidential crisis counseling and information services to individuals (both men AND women) who feel unsafe in their current relationships and wish to understand their rights and options. We also operate a 24-hour hotline, so that friends, family, or victims themselves can call and get more information about services and potential options, in addition to help creating a plan to help women in distress feel safe and secure–even if they are currently unable or unwilling to leave their current relationship.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, or if you suspect that a relationship has become abusive, visit our website at www.fvpcoc.org for more information on the warning signs, things to look for, and options for victims facing abusive or violent relationships.
And if you’d like to know more about how you can support victims of domestic violence in Orange County, go to our website and click on the tab “Get Involved.”
(UPDATE: In our original posting we cited that Mr. Nettles was the father of Ms. Carter’s 11-year-old daughter, a claim which we have since learned was unfounded. We sincerely apologize for any confusion related to this error, and express our deepest condolences to the families of those affected.)