LAPD releases shooting investigation details to "correct" media

Tom Boland (
Sat, 30 Oct 1999 14:23:52 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  Associated Press - Saturday, October 30, 1999


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A police official on Friday released information from
an internal investigation into the fatal shooting of a mentally ill
homeless woman to counter what he called ``misleading and inflammatory''
newspaper reports.

Deputy Chief David Gascon said the department was releasing information
about the shooting to clarify reports published by the Los Angeles Times.
Typically, no internal information becomes public until the civilian Police
Commission reviews the Police Department investigation, Gascon said.

A report by Chief Bernard Parks was sent to the commission Oct. 21.

On Wednesday, the Times cited unidentified sources who said the chief found
the officer who fatally shot the woman last May used faulty tactics but did
not violate department policy when he drew his weapon and fired.

A day after the report, Parks promised the commission would have access to
material on the deadly force shooting of 54-year-old Margaret Mitchell.

``I am inviting the inspector general to immediately review all aspects of
the Margaret Mitchell shooting,'' he said. ``This shooting was a tragic
incident for all those involved and I share the community's desire to fully
examine all the facts.''

Mitchell had a shopping cart with her belongings May 21 when two bicycle
patrol officers asked her if the cart was stolen. The officers said
Mitchell was uncooperative and lunged at them with a screwdriver.

Officer Edward Larrigan, 27, tried to jump out of the way and lost his
balance. Police said he felt threatened by the woman and shot her once in
the chest.

The Times reported on Wednesday that when the officers confronted Mitchell,
police said she immediately became hostile and allegedly threatened to kill
the officers. Mitchell kept walking as an argument ensued, the paper said.

Two witnesses told the paper they gave detailed statements to police ``in
which they told investigators that Mitchell was running away from Larrigan
when she was shot.''

The Police Department said the Times report suggested Mitchell was shot in
the back as she was fleeing.

``The department's examination of all the witness statements, physical
evidence at the scene and the independent coroner's report clearly
substantiate that Mrs. Mitchell was shot in the chest at close proximity,''
Gascon said, reading from a prepared news release.

The release also said, ``on two separate occasions, the Times has printed
information that is misleading and inflammatory. ...The Los Angeles Police
Department is troubled by the repeated instances of the Times publishing
information that is misleading concerning such a tragic event.''

Editors at the Los Angeles Times were not available for comment after
business hours on Friday.

Gascon would not comment on additional findings from Parks' investigation.


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