The mother of an “ER” actress shot to death at her home during a confrontation with South Pasadena police in 2018 sued the city Wednesday.
Vanessa Marquez, 49, lived in South Pasadena on Aug. 30, 2018, when a friend asked paramedics to check on her, according to Delia McElfresh’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages. The paramedics brought South Pasadena police officers, who disregarded the paramedics’ decision that Marquez had a right to refuse to be taken to the hospital and instead created a confrontation that led to her death, the suit states.
“This is exactly the kind of lethal and unnecessary police action that has led so many in the country to call out for police reform,” plaintiff’s attorney Vicki I. Sarmiento said. “This was a situation in which Ms. Marquez was in her home minding her own business and instead of receiving assistance from medical professionals, she was shot to death.”
South Pasadena City Attorney Theresa Highsmith could not be immediately reached for comment.
McElfresh hesitated to bring the suit and hoped the two police officers would be held accountable, but in the absence of that she decided to file her case so her daughter could receive justice, Sarmiento said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the two officers acted in self defense, saying Marquez pointed a handgun at them after they responded to her residence on an emergency medical call. Sheriff’s deputies said that after the shooting officers checked the weapon and determined it was a BB-type gun that resembled a semi-automatic handgun.
“She was suffering from some problems, eating disorder,” Sgt. Joe Mendoza of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters at the scene. “When they (officers) arrived, she was suffering a seizure.”
Sheriff’s officials said a county mental health clinician was with South Pasadena officers at the scene, and they spoke with Marquez “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.”
In addition to her role as nurse Wendy Goldman on “ER” from 1994-97, Marquez also appeared in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver” and had guest roles on shows including “Wiseguy,” “Seinfeld,” “Nurses” and “Melrose Place.”
She made headlines in 2017 when she took to Twitter to accuse former “ER” star George Clooney of blacklisting her from the show for speaking out about harassment on the set.
“Women who don’t play the game lose career. I did,” she wrote. She alleged she was racially and sexually harassed on the set.
Clooney denied having her barred from the show, telling E! News he “had no idea Vanessa was blacklisted.”
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