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PD, prosecutors: Preliminary information shows NKU student was shot in self-defense

Cierra Allen.jpg
Posted at 9:05 PM, Sep 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 13:04:47-04

Police believe the weekend shooting of 30-year-old Cierra Allen, a Northern Kentucky University law student, may have been an act of self defense — but it's too early to make an official determination.

Allen, a third-year at Northern Kentucky University's Chase College of Law, was shot Saturday night in Walnut Hills and quickly hospitalized. She died over the weekend.

Cincinnati Police Department spokesperson Emily Szink said Monday that preliminary evidence indicated the shooting had been an act of self-defense but prosecutors will make the final call.

"We have not made any formal determination yet regarding the Cierra Allen case," assistant prosecutor Amy Clausing wrote in a statement. "In circumstances like this, when CPD finishes their investigation, they will send their file to our office for review. Once that happens, we will review the file and make a formal determination about how the matter should proceed."

People who gathered to remember the young mother at a Monday night said the police account doesn't match with the person they knew. Allen wasn't likely to put herself in dangerous situations, they said.

"Very tragic and unfortunate," said LaNae Allen, a friend. "Like, this was very unexpected."

Faculty at NKU described Allen as a loving parent who hoped to help others through her pursuit of a career in law.

"She really wanted to make a difference in the community where she grew up," said David Singleton, a professor at NKU Chase College of Law. "She lived for her two boys, but also lived for the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who haven't gotten a fair shot."

NKU president Ashish Vaidya announced Allen's death to students in a letter on Sunday and said counseling services would be available for students and staff.

"Cierra is described as an outstanding member of the Chase student body," Vaidya wrote in the letter. "Even with two young children at home, Cierra volunteered her time to serve as a Chase Ambassador to welcome prospective students to the law school. Her smiling face is featured on the Chase website."

The university plans to hold a remembrance event for Allen in the coming days.

A previous version of this story indicated contradictions between police and prosecutors' accounts of the investigation. This was based on a retracted statement from the Cincinnati Police Department, made in error. The article has been updated to reflect the clearest and most current statements from law enforcement and prosecutors.