The young son of a 39-year-old woman who died in a hail of police gunfire at the end of a short car chase has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police chief and city of Torrance.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit stems from the Oct. 31 death of Michelle Lee Shirley. Officers fired 33 rounds at the unarmed woman about 1:30 p.m., according to the complaint, which alleges wrongful death, negligence, battery and civil rights violations.
The lawsuit also names Torrance Police Department Chief Mark Matsuda as a defendant.
The plaintiff is a male minor and the lawsuit was brought on his behalf by his maternal grandfather, Ronnie Shirley, who previously said his daughter was bipolar at the time of her death.
A representative for the Torrance City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment.
But police said previously that just prior to the shooting, Shirley steered her car toward them at the end of the pursuit near a gas station. However, the lawsuit states that other less lethal methods were available to stop Shirley’s car.
The complaint also alleges Torrance Police failed to render aid to her that could have saved her life. She committed no crime and was not a threat to the officers, the suit states. She died at a hospital about a half-hour later.
The suit states that Shirley, a UC San Diego graduate who also had a law degree, was driving erratically for about eight minutes when she reached Cabrillo Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard after leading police on a slow-speed chase.
Shirley’s car had been damaged earlier and the air bags had deployed, the suit states.
—City News Service