Homeless Woman's Shooting By LA Cop Is Probed Internally FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 23 May 1999 18:13:30 -0700 (PDT)


Can the police effectively police themselves, LAPD, NYPD et al included?

Is instant death a fair result for a homeless person's act of possessing a
shopping cart, which may - or may not - be stolen?

Can laws ever protect everyone equally from injustice?
If not, what can?

See related article below:

http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/STATE/t000046363.html
FWD  [California, USA] Los Angeles Times - Sunday, May 23, 1999

     WOMAN'S SHOOTING IS PROBED

     By John L. Mitchell - Times Staff Writer

For years, she was a regular face along the busy thoroughfare,
pushing her shopping cart past the fashionable shops and car dealerships
and feeding the birds from a bus bench.

That's how many of the shopkeepers and residents around La Brea Avenue
and 4th Street in Los Angeles remembered the unidentified homeless woman
who was shot and died Friday after she allegedly threatened a police
officer with a screwdriver.

"The sun will miss you like we do. Rest in peace, nice little old
lady," read a note left Saturday along with flowers and candles near the
spot where she was shot. It was signed "LA."

Gazing at the small memorial, 43-year-old Que Marten, a homeless man,
said: "I used to call her mom, but I never knew too much about her, and
she didn't talk to people much, never said more than two or three words.
When you're homeless, you don't ask a lot of questions and you don't give
up much information."

The woman, who was believed to be about 40, has not been identified,
LAPD spokesman Mike Partain said.

The incident began about 4:20 p.m. Friday when two bicycle officers,
one male, the other female, tried to stop the woman on the sidewalk to
ask if the shopping cart she was pushing had been stolen.

When the officers ordered her to stop, Partain said, she pulled out a
large screwdriver and began threatening to kill them.

Both officers were from the Wilshire Division. Officer Edward
Larrigan, 27, is a five-year department veteran, and Officer Kathy Clark,
29, is a three-year veteran.

Partain said the officers got off their bicycles and tried to calm the
woman, but she continued to threaten them with the screwdriver.

Police said a motorist also intervened, urging the woman to put down
the screwdriver, without success. Then the homeless woman tried to flee,
Partain said. She was stopped a short distance away and lunged at
Larrigan, trying to slash him with the screwdriver, Partain said.

Feeling threatened, Larrigan fired once, striking the woman in the
shoulder, Partain said. He could not confirm earlier reports that said
the officer was ducking out of the way and lost his balance as he fired
the shot. The woman was rushed to nearby Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,
where she died about half an hour after the shooting.

LAPD Cmdr. David J. Kalish, the department's spokesman, said the
shooting is under investigation and that officials are examining whether
there was time to use less than lethal force. He said it appears that the
officer may have had limited options because the incident occurred so
quickly.

;But along La Brea Avenue, those who were familiar with the homeless
woman found it hard to believe that the police officer didn't have other
options.

A salesman at nearby La Brea Avenue Motors, who said he and others
witnessed the incident, said the officer did not fire until the woman had
turned and walked away, no longer posing a threat.

"She never threatened anyone," said the salesman, who refused to give
his name.

Andrea Nadel, who works at a paper products store, remembered the
woman as someone who "would talk to herself, but she wouldn't hurt
anybody."

"Why didn't they use pepper spray or something else to bring her under
control?" she asked.

At a flower shop, Jennifer Kelly said that from time to time the
homeless woman would stop by to sell incense, and they would chat
briefly.

"She didn't seem aggressive. She was just homeless," Kelly said.

Brandon McClure, 19, riding by the site on his skateboard on Saturday,
recalled that "she was a nice lady. She was friendly. She would bum a
cigarette, but she would never hurt anyone."

[Times staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this story.]

END FORWARD

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