Your letter to the editor on LADP Police Shooting of Homeless

Tom Boland (
Sat, 5 Jun 1999 17:23:19 -0700 (PDT)

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If you wrote a letter to the editor about the LAPD shooting
of a homeless woman -- and the Police Chief's statement that
police acted properly -- what would you say?
FWD  Los Angeles Times - Saturday, June 5, 1999
     Letters to the Editor


Re "Tread Carefully, Chief Parks," editorial, May 28: LAPD Chief
Bernard Parks made no snap judgments at the time of the [Margaret LaVerne
Mitchell shooting] incident and allowed a preliminary investigation to
occur before making pronouncements. He has made a qualified decision that
the officers acted appropriately based upon the available evidence.
Parks recognizes that the media and special interests frequently crucify
officers and he appropriately states that he will not allow these
officers to be sacrificed for political or special interests. Nor will he
allow allegations of racism to go unchallenged. He also had the courage
to point out that police should not be held responsible for a situation
that may have had its genesis in a deficient family or state mental-care

Parks is certainly not creating an "us versus them" situation. He has
proven to his department that he is a tough leader. Now he demonstrates
to everyone else that he is a tough leader. Los Angeles should expect
nothing less.


Re "Officers Acted Properly in Shooting, Parks Says," May 28: What is
the difference between a cop killer and a killer cop? One is hunted down
like the criminal he is and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,
while the other is told to use "better judgment" next time.


A homeless woman wielding a screwdriver, placing an officer's life in
danger, is shot and killed. Her son may now file a civil rights lawsuit
and lays blame with the LAPD not just for shooting his mother but for
also not heeding his pleas for help. Blame should be laid squarely with
Mitchell's son. I would never allow my mother to become a homeless
person. I certainly wouldn't expect the LAPD to be responsible for her

Los Angeles

Finger-pointing hit an all-time low when Parks tried to lay blame for
Mitchell's death on her son. Mitchell's son pleaded to the LAPD and other
agencies for help but was refused. There was nothing he could do. Her
untreated illness stole from her the normal family bond and our
involuntary treatment laws did not allow him to get the medical treatment
she so desperately needed.

Parks was right about one thing: Rather than finger-pointing, it's
time society starts putting resources into getting people off the streets
by providing more community treatment and hospitalizing those who need
hospitalization before they become a police problem. Our laws and
inhumanity have made our streets a Bedlam and treat some people with
mental illness as social discards.

Board Member, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Long Beach


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