About two dozen people protested the officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of a So Pas resident by marching to the police station. Photo by Joseph Ruiz

About two dozen people joined a protest march this past Saturday that called for the firing of three police officers involved in an officer-involved shooting (OIS) that claimed the life of local resident Vanessa Marquez.

“We feel that Vanessa Marquez was unjustly treated by the officers and they should be fired,” said David Sanchez, the founder of the Brown Berets that led the protest this past weekend. “They overreacted by shooting her. They should have waited her out and they didn’t.”

The march began at the apartment where Marquez lived and the shooting occurred, 1133 Fremont Ave., and went the few blocks to the police station.

Although the Brown Berets, an organization that gained prominence in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, does not have any local members, they organized the march because community members asked them to at a recent memorial held for Marquez at a local park. The public memorial was held Sept. 22 at Arroyo Park where family and friends fondly remembered Marquez.

 

The protest march finished at the South Pasadena Police station, just outside City Hall on the sidewalk. Photo by Joseph Ruiz

 

The 49-year-old Marquez died in the OIS that occurred at about 1:48 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at her residence on Fremont Avenue. No officers were injured during the incident. Marquez was an actress, most notably with roles on “ER” and “Stand and Deliver.” Marquez was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The OIS probe is being handled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Justice System Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Also, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is in charge of the official cause of death report. Sheriff investigators have put a “security hold” on the coroner’s report, which means the coroner can’t talk about its findings.

The District Attorney’s Office will render its opinion as to whether the shooting was justified or not. Investigations such as these can take anywhere from six months to a year to complete, according to officials. Local officials, including police, have already unofficially determined that the OIS was justified.

The three local officers involved in the Aug. 30 incident were placed on administrative leave as per department policy and have since returned to patrol duties, police said.

The South Pasadena City Council weathered a rash of criticisms during a public meeting over the handling of OIS.

Sanchez was at that meeting as well and also said the officers should be fired.

Moreover, several people followed Sanchez with scathing remarks regarding the city’s handling of the situation, including one woman who became emotional while decrying the council’s marginalization of Marquez’s life. Another, who said she was a newspaper editor, promised Freedom of Information (FOI) requests will be forthcoming that will force the city to release more specific information. As of press time, the city has received at least one FOI regarding the officer-involved shooting.

The criticism levied at the council concerned, in large measure, the limited amount of information being publicly released about the specifics of the OIS.

In regards to the police officers that were involved in the OIS, Interim Police Chief Brian Solinsky told the council during the emotionally charged meeting that they had returned to patrol duty.

The officers involved were wearing body-worn cameras and the video is not being publicly released per the Sheriff’s Department as it is considered evidence.

The last OIS that occurred in So Pas was in 2016. There was another in 2017 that occurred in Burbank but also involved South Pasadena police officers. In that incident, a replica handgun also was brandished at So Pas police. The subject was killed in that OIS.

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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