L.A. Officer Disputes Police Stance

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A motorcycle officer who was at the scene when a fellow officer shot and killed a homeless woman testified that he believes the shooting was unjustified, contradicting the police department's official ruling.

``I didn't understand how this whole thing went down the way it did,'' Officer John Goines said during a deposition. ``I didn't see how — how come the lady ended up getting shot, and it was disturbing to me.''

The family of Margaret Mitchell is suing the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for unspecified damages for the May 1999 shooting by Officer Edward Larrigan. The suit also names Larrigan, another officer and Police Chief Bernard Parks.

Parks has said Larrigan shot the 102-pound, mentally ill woman, after she lunged at him with a 12-inch screwdriver. The Police Commission Inspector General's report found that other witnesses did not see her lunge.

Parks ruled the shooting was within department policy but found that Larrigan used faulty tactics. The civilian Los Angeles Police Commission found in February that the shooting violated department policy.

In testimony July 12, Goines said a passing van blocked his view as Larrigan fired the fatal shot, but he witnessed events beforehand and immediately afterward.

Larrigan and another officer were questioning Mitchell, 55, about a shopping cart they suspected was stolen.

Cmdr. David Kalish, a police spokesman, declined to comment on Goines' testimony except to say that much of it was opinion.

``What's important are the facts,'' Kalish said.