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Officer Will Not Face Discipline Over Killing

June 20, 2003

Re "Police Back Officer in '99 Killing," June 17: It was with great sadness that I learned that the Los Angeles Police Department found the actions of the officer who killed Margaret Mitchell justified. Mitchell died trying to protect her meager possessions, while the police officer was trying to protect the rights of the shopping cart owner. He knew or should have known that the victim was irrational, as a large percentage of the homeless are.

It is confounding that the Police Commission, the police chief, the City Council, the federal overseer and the inspector general do not have the power or the will to correct this situation. The fault may very well be divided among those who make policy, enforce policy and carry out policy but clearly, here, as in the case of Rampart, no one has the will or the interest to pursue justice.

Margaret Mitchell, wherever you are, I am sorry to inform you that you have died in vain and nobody cares.

Philip Means

Orange

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So Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor, can't "see how it's in policy to shoot and kill a woman armed with a screwdriver." I can understand why: He's never been a police officer and has probably never been in harm's way. Go to the morgue or any emergency room and look at the horrific wounds that can be inflicted by a cutting/stabbing instrument and you will understand why police officers fear attacks by these type of weapons over any other.

Could this specific incident have been handled differently? It's easy to say yes in hindsight, but none of us can honestly say he or she would have reacted differently at the time, because it wasn't our lives on the line.

Sgt. Scott Anderson

Maywood Police Dept.

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In reading about the shooting death of Mitchell, I note, once again, how the powers that be have managed to keep the focus on the two or three seconds when the shooting occurred and keep the focus away from the nexus of the problem. For four years, news reports have stated that the officers stopped Mitchell "to determine whether the shopping cart she was pushing had been stolen." We all know she didn't own the shopping cart.

When police agencies promulgate policies that encourage the harassment of citizens for no reason (or for manufactured reasons), civil liberties suffer, in this case, tragically so.

Bill Bennett

Newport Beach

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