The Los Angeles Police Department have murdered another homeless person, and now demonstrators are taking to the streets, demanding justice.
The protest began Monday evening, when Los Angeles residents heard of the police gunning down a homeless woman who was well-known as having mental health problems.
The Monday evening protest was organized by the activist group known as the Brown Berets. One of those members, August Cevada, told reporters that “Brown lives also matter.”
Family members say that Norma “Angie” Guzman, 37, had a history of mental illness.
“They should have TASED her or pepper sprayed her or something,” Brandy Morales, an acquaintance of Guzman, said.
Guzman said she was staying in a nearby house, of Morales’s father-in-law.
The LAPD has refused to explain why officers sprayed the mentally-ill woman with bullets, instead of using “non-lethal” options instead.
The incident happened on Sunday. That’s when Sgt. Frank Preciado said that two officers – including one rookie in training – responded to a call of a woman who had a knife.
Local NBC 4 says that Guzman was prone to what Morales called “fits,” in which Guzman shouted and behaved irrationally – but she had never hurt anyone.
There were numerous times that Guzman had been forcibly committed for psychiatric evaluation. In most of those cases, she was let out after 72 hours, but recently she was hospitalized for a full month.
It was clear, friends and family say, that she was mentally ill.
“Why did the police do this?” Guzman’s mother Gloria pleaded.
The LAPD has confirmed that the officers involved in the incident were in fact wearing body cameras. We asked them for a copy of the footage, but were told that the recordings have not been made public. We asked if they were going to be made public, but we received no comment.
LAPD Chief Charle Beck verified what we had been told, that the woman is on the video clearly begging to be shot, saying, “Shoot me, shoot me.”
The police seemed to think that it was their job to help suicidal, mentally-ill homeless people die, instead of getting them the medical attention that they need. Shortly after the woman begged to die, the officers unloaded on her.
“When an interaction between a law enforcement person and a person in crisis results in death, it’s always a tragedy,” Brittney Weissman, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Council of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said in comment on this incident.
“We know being a police officer is a tough job. But the incident yesterday raises a lot of questions that we know the police commission and the LAPD have to investigate,” Weissman added.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell noted that 40% of the LAPD’s use of force involve mental illness.
(Article by M. David and S. Wooten; image via NBC 4, modified by #Op309 Media)