Cops shot and killed a bipolar Black woman, Michelle Lee Shirley, following a police chase in Torrance, California.
In another recent case of police shootings, a 39-year-old bipolar Black woman, Michelle Lee Shirley was shot dead by police in southern California on Monday. The officers received several 911 calls about an “erratic and reckless driver,” who fled the scene of an accident. A police chase followed and it resulted in the death of a Black mother, who suffered from mental illness. We have collected more and trusted information from the following sources:
The family of Michelle Lee Shirley speaking out 4 the first time after she was killed in Torrance police shooting. Live from San Diego pic.twitter.com/73ImEIsnfe
— Hetty Chang (@HettyNBCLA) November 2, 2016
Michelle Lee Shirley was an overachiever, helping to raise her six siblings while still excelling in school and graduating a year early to attend college and pursue a law degree.
But bipolar disorder derailed her life as she was raising her young son and studying for the bar exam about a decade ago. Since then, she struggled to manage the disease while pursuing her goals.
On Monday, family members believe, the 39-year-old woman was unable to escape the grip of her mental illness again.
— Daily Breeze (@DailyBreezeNews) November 2, 2016
Several people called the police to report an “erratic and reckless” motorist driving through Torrance. When cops found her, Shirley was still driving her car even though its side air bags had deployed and there was recent collision damage.
Rather than stopping when police cornered her, she back into one patrol car and then accelerated head on into another cruiser, according to a police statement and videos taken by onlookers at the scene.
At least two officers fired many gunshots at the car as it lurched at them near the Chevron gas station at Sepulveda Boulevard and Cabrillo Avenue.
Shirley was hit — how many times hasn’t been disclosed — and taken to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead shortly after 3 p.m. on Halloween. See more
A video shot by one witness showed a gray saloon car meandering erratically down a leafy road in the middle of the afternoon, with its hazard lights blinking. Officers then spotted the vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road and watched it almost hit several cars, according to Sgt Paul Kranke from Torrance Police. Police feared she posed a threat to pupils walking home because her driving coincided with the end of the school day.
— REG (@D_Reg_) October 31, 2016
Cops chased the car until they reached a crossroads at a petrol station in southeast Torrance, where officers performed a maneuver to block the car in. The bipolar Black woman lurched the car forward in an attempt to flee, which is when the police started firing. One of the officers suffered moderate injuries during the incident.
“Officers were authorized to utilize a Precision Intervention Technique maneuver which brought the vehicle to a stop facing northbound on Cabrillo Ave just north of Sepulveda Boulevard,”a police spokesman said.
“The vehicle accelerated in reverse striking an occupied Torrance Police vehicle and then accelerated forward striking a second occupied marked Torrance Police vehicle. At that point, an officer-involved shooting occurred at approximately 2:36 pm.” Read more
Shirley’s family said they believe she was off her bipolar medication during the time of the incident. Her sister, Karen, said she saw her a few days before the incident and said that she hadn’t been sleeping much and was speaking at a rapid pace.
“Her behavior was out of the ordinary,” the sister said.
According to the Daily Breeze, an investigation of the police shooting is being conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Operations Bureau and the District Attorney’s Office, and authorities are awaiting toxicology tests to reveal whether or not the bipolar Black woman was taking her medications.
Police Killings Of The Mentally Ill 2016: California Shooting Of Michelle Lee Shirley Points To Troubling Pattern … https://t.co/9wmN4eb0gU
— Gonzalo Wolfred (@GonzaloWolfred) November 2, 2016
Shirley’s mother, Debra Shirley, said she was frustrated that the incident resulted in a fatal shooting.
“I feel like they paint people of color with a brush that says: ‘You’re disposable.’ I really feel like police are not equipped to deal with mental illness in the field,” she said. “Shoot the tires or disable the car.”
In a video titled, “It’s Up to Us,” and intended to raise awareness about mental illness, Shirley can be seen discussing the struggles of her disorder and how it affected her life while trying to balance motherhood and law school.
“If you receive a diagnosis of a mental disorder, please take it seriously and seek help because ignoring it can take away years of your life,” she says in the video, which was released in 2011. See more
— Sunn m’Cheaux (@sunnmcheaux) November 2, 2016
Yet another mentally ill person is killed in cold blood by police. The bipolar Black woman was obviously suffering from an episode of her illness before the shooting, but the incompetent cops just had to draw their guns and shoot her several times because she is Black.
Mentally ill Black people are easy targets for the police, as they can come up with the excuse that the victims were either erratic or dangerous. This madness has to stop. These incompetent and poorly trained officers should be taken off the streets; they have no idea how to de-escalate such cases without worse outcomes.