Two friends of actress Vanessa Marquez, who was fatally shot by South Pasadena Police last summer, spoke at Wednesday’s City Council meeting seeking answers to what happened inside a Fremont Avenue apartment building leading up to the shooting.
Minerva Garcia and Kelly Stuart are among those wanting to know more following the incident on Aug. 30, 2018 in the city.
Garcia told council members next week will mark six months since the incident when South Pasadena police went to the Marquez’s apartment for a wellness check, “…and we’re no closer to finding out the truth of her death.”
She asked councilmembers what the South Pasadena Police Department and City Council is hiding. “There’s no coroner’s report, no police report, no camera footage, no recordings, no information whatsoever on the officers who shot her. What are they hiding?”
Garcia claims the story from the South Pasadena Police Department changes “over and over again,” telling the council she’s heard three different versions of the woman’s death death. Garcia said she heard one report that the victim was having a seizure, police entered her apartment and Marquez picked up a weapon, threatened them and she was shot. Garcia also heard that police ran out of Marquez’s apartment as she was wielding a fake gun at them and shot her fearing for their lives. A third version, according to Garcia, involved Marquez having a “mental breakdown,” she told the council.
“So what is the truth?” Garcia asked the council. “Which one of these stories is the truth, South Pasadena Police Department? What are you hiding? What are you hiding that you can’t keep the story straight? Why does she deserve to be shot so excessively?”
Garcia wonders why the South Pasadena Police Department “…didn’t call the Sheriff’s Department Crises team,” she asked.
“Why did you have to kill her this way,” continued Garcia, noting that her friend had chronic illnesses and faced near homelessness and struggled to pay her rent. “She couldn’t stand too long without losing her balance, “but somehow she managed to get this weapon to intimidate officers to the point that they saw no other alternative but to shoot her.”
Garcia called Marquez a decent, loving human being, who “sometimes would go without eating, just so she wouldn’t be on the streets. She needed to be helped, not shot to death,” insisted Garcia.
Earlier in the day during a press conference outside South Pasadena City Hall, a $20 million claim was made against the City of South Pasadena from Marquez’s mother who said poor tactics, negligence and overreaction on the part of police led to the loss of her daughter.
Marquez, an actress, might be best known for her role as Nurse Wendy Goldman in 27 episodes of “ER.” Several people in attendance at the press conference who knew Marquez said they would be petitioning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seeking the Oscar-nominated actress be included in the 2019 show’s “In Memoriam,” a list of those in film industry who have passed away over the past year.
Reports on the incident show that South Pasadena Police arrived at the apartment last August and found Marquez having a seizure. She reportedly did not cooperate with offers by police wishing to provide medical attention, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Marquez reportedly was talking with a mental health clinician when she grabbed what looked like a handgun and directed it at the officers.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, two officers shot at Marquez, who was struck by gunfire at least once in the torso. She was transported to a nearby hospital and later pronounced dead.
Stuart, shaken by the loss of her friend, also offered her thoughts in wanting to know more about the woman’s death. “I’ve been waiting to find out what happened to her because there has been no information that has been given to us…just a very crazy story that was told to us with many different versions of the story. It’s really important if you want us to believe that there is accountability, that there is justice.”
Stuart said the name of the officer responsible for the shooting has not been released. “I went to her apartment [where she was killed] and there were so many bullet holes,” explained Stuart. “She was like 80 pounds, a tiny little woman who was partly blind. I want the police report and I would really beg for you guys [City Council] to find a way to release information. It’s just so terrible to know someone who was killed like that and think there is never going to be any kind of justice, accountability or even to know what happened to her.”
Following Wednesday’s council meeting, South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian said, “This matter is being investigated by two independent entities, the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office. We are awaiting the results of the investigations. The council will not be commenting on threatened or pending litigation.”