PROTESTS Grow Over Police Killings In LA & Riverside, CA, USA FWD

Tom Boland (
Thu, 27 May 1999 20:32:45 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  [California, USA] Los Angeles Times - May 26, 1999


Rally: Demonstrators seek to have charges filed against officers who shot a
teenager in Riverside and a homeless woman in Los Angeles.


Protesters still angry over the fatal shooting of a Riverside
teenager escalated their calls for justice Tuesday to include the case of
a mentally ill homeless woman who was shot to death by a Los Angeles
police officer last week during a dispute over her shopping cart.
More than 350 demonstrators carried signs and chanted "No justice, no
peace, no racist police!" in front of the U.S. attorney's office in
downtown Los Angeles.

A phalanx of federal police stood by but made no arrests as the
demonstrators carried out their rally peacefully.

The demonstrators, led by activist Danny Bakewell of the Brotherhood
Crusade, threatened to continue weekly civil disobedience marches if
federal charges are not filed against the four Riverside police officers
who fatally shot Tyisha Miller.

Miller, 19, was shot more than 20 times Dec. 28 as she sat in her
parked car at a gas station.

The Riverside County district attorney said there was insufficient
evidence to warrant filing criminal charges against the officers.

The FBI is now investigating that case and the officers' contentions
that they shot Miller as she reached for a gun in her lap.

But the focus of the Tuesday rally quickly turned to the case of
Margaret Laverne Mitchell, 54, who was fatally shot in the chest during
an encounter with a Los Angeles police officer last Friday.

Officer Edward Larrigan had stopped Mitchell--a fixture on La Brea
Avenue in Hancock Park--to see if she had stolen the shopping cart she
was pushing.

Bakewell and others said they do not believe police accounts that
Larrigan acted out of fear for his life when he shot Mitchell, who was
just over five feet tall and weighed 102 pounds, after she lunged at him
with a long screwdriver.

Police also said Larrigan may have stumbled slightly to avoid being
slashed by the screwdriver, and that he may have been falling to the
ground when he fired the single shot.

"With this homeless woman, I mean . . . police can't duck? They can't
get out of the way?" Bakewell asked. "They ought to be fired off of the
Police Department."

Family's Lawyer, Police Chief Differ

At the Los Angeles Police Commission meeting Tuesday night, Leo J.
Terrell, the attorney representing Mitchell's family, accused the LAPD of
orchestrating a cover-up and said he believes the investigation is a

Terrell said he has gathered statements from three eyewitnesses who
contend that Mitchell was not a threat to the officers.

But Chief Bernard C. Parks said people should not judge the
investigation before it is concluded.

"We have to give [the officers] some form of credibility that they are
telling us the truth, that they are doing what they are trained to do,
and they were reacting to circumstances where they obviously felt they
were in danger," Parks said.

Capt. James Tatreau, at the same meeting, revealed several new details
about the shooting. He said that Larrigan tried to draw his pepper spray,
but Mitchell lunged at him from about seven feet away before he could.

Terrell said in a statement that he plans to have a second autopsy
done by a Pittsburgh pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, "to ensure that an
unbiased autopsy is performed without an attempt to compromise evidence."

Coroner's spokesman Scott Carrier said his office would make available
to Wecht any of the specimens and tissue samples taken during the first
autopsy of Mitchell on Sunday.

Terrell also said he was setting up a memorial trust fund to cover
burial expenses for Mitchell, who had raised a son alone and worked at
several banks after graduating from Cal State L.A. In later years, she
slipped progressively into mental illness and ended up homeless.

On Tuesday, another makeshift memorial was put up at the site of the
shooting at the corner of La Brea and 4th streets. A protester had
spattered the sidewalk with a red mixture, and there were some protest
signs. Said one: "To Serve and Protect Who?"


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