chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Sat, 16 Dec 2000 18:17:48 -0700

I only have a few comments about this.

Comment number one is that no court or government agency can place a price
on human life, and $975,000 dollars for the life of a homeless, allegedly
"crazy," old black woman can only be interpreted as an insult of the most
cynically racist variety.

Second, Edward Larrigan is a murderer and a coward. He should be tried and
convicted of murder. Living a coward's life is punishment enough for being a

Third, Ted Hayes' crew sure sucked up this media opportunity on the FOX news
website. Pretty ironic, considering Ted exonerated LAPD and instead blamed
homeless advocates for permitting her to be on the streets at the time of
her death.




Saturday, December 16, 2000

City to Pay $975,000 in Police Killing of Homeless Woman

LAPD: Council approves settlement with the family of the mentally ill
victim, who was shot by an officer who said she lunged at him with a

By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved spending $975,000 to settle
a lawsuit filed by the family of Margaret Mitchell, the 102-pound homeless
woman fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer last year.

The city's civilian Police Commission had ruled that the shooting violated
the department's policies on the use of deadly force.

The settlement approved Friday provides a high-priced capstone to a case
that critics said illustrates the LAPD's inability to handle confrontations
with the mentally ill. It also comes as the City Council continues to
approve millions of dollars to settle cases stemming from the Rampart
Division scandal. 

"It is a very untenable place to be," Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said
after the vote. "We're losing financial capital, but we're also losing
considerable moral capital."

Council members acted to settle the suit in executive session on the advice
of attorneys, who warned that a jury might have returned a costlier verdict
should the case have gone to trial.

The city attorney's office, which usually represents the city in lawsuits,
recused itself from the case because of the conflict created when the LAPD's
inspector general faulted the performance of officers in the shooting.

The settlement was negotiated by Theresa Patzakis, Mayor Richard Riordan's
general counsel. On Friday, Ben Austin, a spokesman for the mayor, said:
"This was a real tragedy for both parties, and we're grateful to finally put
this case and this chapter for Los Angeles behind us."

The shooting outraged local police activists and advocates for the mentally
ill and shook City Hall as it pitted Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, who
initially found the incident "in policy," against the man charged with
investigating the department and the Police Commission, which ultimately
overruled the chief.

The sequence of events leading up to the May 21, 1999, shooting began when
two bicycle officers on La Brea Avenue stopped to determine whether
Mitchell, a 55-year-old mentally ill woman standing just over 5 feet tall,
was pushing a stolen shopping cart.

One of the officers, Edward Larrigan, shot Mitchell when she allegedly
lunged at him with a 12-inch screwdriver.

Parks found that his officers used poor tactics before the shooting, but
that Larrigan had a legitimate fear for his life. Parks urged the Police
Commission to find the incident "in policy."

But Inspector General Jeffrey Eglash found otherwise in his separate
investigation, ruling that Mitchell did not pose a deadly threat. The Police
Commission found, on a 3-2 vote, that the shooting was out of policy,
rejecting Parks' findings.

And a veteran LAPD motorcycle officer who witnessed the shooting from across
the street said in a deposition that he believed the shooting was

A Times investigation after the shooting found that the LAPD frequently
mishandled incidents involving mentally ill or unstable people and that the
department's probes of shootings by its officers were deeply flawed.

Activists and council members called for better training for officers in
dealing with the mentally ill, a call echoed Friday by Councilwoman Laura

"While this settlement brings closure to the lawsuit," Chick said, "the
ongoing issues continue. . . . How do we in L.A. treat and care for our
mentally ill?" 

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times


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