Man slain by Westminster officers unarmed, police say

Mike Steindel (
Mon, 21 Jun 1999 23:19:26 -0700 (PDT)

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Once again the cops have gunned down an unarmed suspect. I am not sure
how many that is this week. There was 3 unarmed suspects killed in
Chicago and two more in Maryland that I have heard of. It seems that
cops just shoot first and ask questions later.  mike

Man slain by Westminster officers unarmed, police say 
CHASE: Witnesses said he had turned toward officers with his hand in his
June 21, 1999
The Orange County Register  

WESTMINSTER =97 A fugitive parolee shot by Westminister police Saturday
afternoon after a high-speed chase was unarmed, police announced late

Westminster police Sgt. Tom Blackburn said an investigation had
determined that Michael Scott Coolidge was not carrying a firearm when
he was confronted by police. Witnesses on the scene Saturday said
Coolidge, pursued by police on foot after a brief car chase, initially
ignored orders to stop, then turned toward officers with his hand in his

The shooting investigation is continuing. As a result, Orange County
Deputy Coroner Cullen Ellinburgh said Sunday that the cause of
Coolidge's death is being listed as "pending."

Ellinburgh said that a final determination is often held up by
nonmedical issues relating to police investigations. 

Ellinburgh said that listing the cause of death as pending is "not
unusual. It happens all the time. Quite often, all the facts that need
to be gathered before a case can be cleared are not available all that

Ellinburg said it could be "days to weeks" before a cause of death is
determined. Meanwhile, Westminster police said they did not believe the
high-speed chase that shattered the calm of an otherwise quiet
neighborhood Saturday had put local residents in any danger. Lt. Michael
Schliskey said that despite reports of pedestrians and baby strollers in
the vicinity, the officers involved in the incident said there wasn't
anybody nearby.
"We were chasing the suspect through yards, and people were locked in
their houses," he said. 

Westminster police policy allows officers or their supervisors to call
off a chase at their discretion when they believe the community is at
risk, Schliskey said.

He said that when deciding whether to continue or call off a chase,
police consider a number of factors, including the gravity of the crime,
the time of day, and the volume of foot and auto traffic.

Police said Saturday that they had spotted Coolidge in what they
believed was a drug transaction at a house they had been staking out. He
was wanted on a warrant for violating his parole.

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