RIVERSIDE — A young woman who locked herself in her disabled car, with a handgun in her lap, and then fell sound asleep was shot to death early Monday by Riverside police officers sent to rouse her.
After getting no response to their repeated shouts, the officers tried to gain entry by smashing a window of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller's car, police said.
Apparently startled by the noise, Miller awoke, gripped the gun and fired once, police said. The officers shot back instantly, killing her in a fusillade of bullets.
None of the officers was wounded.
A police statement that provided few details said the officers knew that Miller had a gun, but believed she was in medical distress when they tried to break into the car.
The officers, who were not identified, were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
The shooting occurred in the parking lot of a self-serve gas station about 2 a.m. as Miller's cousin and a friend watched in horror.
A family member said Miller was returning from a night out with friends when her car developed a tire problem. She pulled into the service station on Brockton Avenue and called her cousin's home for help.
While waiting for someone to arrive, the family member said, Miller locked herself in the car and placed a handgun in her lap, presumably for self-protection.
Witnesses at the service station said she left the motor running to keep warm and turned on the car's radio and emergency flashers.
Miller's cousin and a companion arrived later. They found her locked inside her car and unresponsive when they shouted and banged on the car. Fearful for her well-being, they dialed 911. At least two police units were dispatched.
An investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Riverside Police Department's homicide squad and the Riverside County district attorney's office.