Channel 2000 - Witnesses: Homeless Woman Was Fleeing

Mike Steindel (
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 06:08:17 -0700 (PDT)

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Witnesses: Homeless Woman Was Fleeing

Two New Accounts Dispute Police Accounts Of Shooting
 LOS ANGELES, Posted 12:54 p.m. June 6, 1999 -- Two witnesses to a
controversial shooting where a homeless woman was fatally wounded by
police say the woman was trying to flee and did not attempt to attack
the officers with a screwdriver. 

These new accounts contradict the officer's version of the May 21
James Moody, a 68-year-old retired truck driver, told the Los Angeles
Times he was 12 feet away when Margaret Mitchell was shot by LAPD
Officer Edward Larrigan, 27. 

Police claim the 55-year-old woman attacked the motorcycle officers with
a 12-inch screwdriver when they stopped her to check whether the
shopping cart she was pushing had been stolen. 

Moody said Saturday that Mitchell neither lunged at nor slashed at the
two dismounted bicycle officers with the screwdriver. 

 "It was the officer's fault," Moody told the Times. "She wasn't close
enough to stick that man with a screwdriver. She wasn't close enough,

A second witness, an auto salesman who asked that his name not be used,
saw the shooting from a perch above the sidewalk. 
"It wasn't like what the officer said. She did not attack him," he told
the newspaper. "She did not drive the screwdriver at him." 

The car salesman said Mitchell was running away from the officers and
pulling her cart behind her with her left hand when she was shot. 

"She was running away from the officers at the time she got shot," he
Critics say the shooting was racially motivated. Mitchell was African
American, Larrigan is Hispanic and his partner, Kathy Clark, 29, is
Asian-American and Hispanic, said The Associated Press. 

During a closed-door meeting with the City Council Friday, Police Chief
Parks dismissed the notion that the incident was fueled by bigotry and
explained the LAPD's policies on the use of force and how officers are
trained to handle homeless and mentally ill people. 

Mitchell was reportedly a paranoid schizophrenic. 
"From what we've seen so far, these officers at this point do not appear
to have done anything wrong," Parks said to reporters six days after the

At the meeting, Parks said two out of 16 witnesses interviewed by police
gave accounts "which were inconsistent with the officers' statements."
None of the witnesses who apparently back the police version of the
shooting have made their statements public, reports AP. 

An LAPD official who asked not to be identified told the Times that
investigators don't consider Moody one of the two "inconsistent"

The shooting is under investigation by police, the FBI and the U.S.
attorney's office.

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