A window was damaged at residence where the officer-involved shooting occurred. Photos by Steve Whitmore

The woman that died in a South Pasadena officer-involved shooting (OIS) Thursday has been identified as 49-year-old So Pas resident and actress Vanessa Marquez.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau is leading the investigation into Thursday’s shooting that occurred at about 1:48 p.m. at 1133 Fremont Avenue, according to police. No officers were injured during the incident.

Marquez was an actress, most notably with roles on “ER” and “Stand and Deliver.”

The incident started out as a routine welfare check on a woman that was believed to be having medical and mental challenges, according to police.

The address where the incident took place.

“Officers from South Pasadena Police Department were in an apartment complex at the location conducting a welfare check for a female resident who was possibly suffering from a medical condition,” according to a statement released by Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Joe Mendoza, the lead investigator.  “When officers arrived at approximately 12:00 p.m., they noticed the female was having seizures. They requested fire department paramedics to respond and assist with her medical needs.”

Mendoza goes on to say in the prepared statement that the woman became uncooperative during the welfare check.

News media gathered outside the residence where the officer-involved shooting occurred. Photo by Steve Whitmore

“While speaking to her, officers became aware she was possibly suffering from mental health issues, became uncooperative, and appeared to be unable to care for herself,” said Mendoza. “A Los Angeles County Mental Health Clinician was on scene with officers from South Pasadena PD. They continued to speak to her for over an hour and a half in an attempt to offer her medical care. She then armed herself with a handgun and pointed it at the officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred.”

Marquez was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to Mendoza’s statement.

The weapon turned out to be a BB gun that was a replica of a semi-automatic handgun, according to Mendoza.

“It has the appearance of a real gun,” Mendoza said during a telephone interview Friday morning. “It didn’t have the orange tip that is usually found on these guns. This looked like a real gun and then she pointed it at the officers.”

The investigation is ongoing and could take up to several months before its concluded. The Justice System Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney Office also is investigating the shooting.

Television news crews were on hand Friday for the story.

“This is a bifurcated investigation,” Mendoza said. “We will gather all the facts and when we are done, we will present that to the District Attorney’s Office.” At which time, the DA will issue a letter of opinion that will indicate the shooting was justified or unjustified. That letter is given to homicide, which in turn gives it to the SPPD. The process could take anywhere from 6 months to a year, Mendoza said.

Officer-involved shootings have occurred in South Pasadena but are considered rare, according to Acting Police Chief Brian Solinsky, who has been with the department for the last 25 years.  The last officer-involved shooting in So Pas was in 2016, according to Solinsky.

“We’ve had a few of these over the last few years,” Solinsky said Thursday evening. “Everyone pulled together and did their jobs professionally. I am proud of the organization and the men and women who serve South Pasadena.”

All the officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave per department policy, Solinsky said.

So Pas City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe agreed with the acting chief, saying these types of occurrences are rare.

“It is very unfortunate and sad that the August 30 incident involving one of our residents, Vanessa Marquez, ended tragically with the loss of her life,” DeWolfe said in a prepared statement. “Our officers, along with a mental health professional, made every attempt to resolve the situation peacefully before the use of deadly force became necessary. We are a small, close-knit community and these types of incidents are very rare. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, colleagues and fans during this difficult time.”

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store.

 

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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