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Police Kill Woman Carrying Knife

The Huntington Beach 19-year-old may have been raped the night before, investigators say.

August 26, 2006|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

Two Huntington Beach police officers fatally shot a 19-year-old woman Friday morning after she lunged at them with a knife, authorities said.

The officers were responding to a 911 call about 7:30 a.m. reporting that Ashley MacDonald was walking through her neighborhood near Sun View Park with a knife in her hand.

Investigators said they later learned she had just argued with her mother inside their apartment. The mother's arms were superficially cut a number of times during the fight, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the investigating agency for officer-related shootings in Huntington Beach.

Amormino said his agency was investigating reports that MacDonald's fight with her mother was over an alleged rape of the young woman the previous night.

"She's a very nice girl," said Chris Guthrie, 23, a friend of MacDonald's. "A very traumatic thing happened to her last night."

Amormino said the officers repeatedly warned MacDonald, "Drop the knife," before firing. There were witnesses to the incident. Amormino said he didn't know the size of the knife.

The two officers, whose identities were not disclosed, were criticized by some in the neighborhood, near the Bella Terra shopping center, for using deadly force against the teen, but Amormino said they were not carrying less-lethal means of subduing the woman. He said the officers followed department training by firing into her upper torso.

MacDonald was rushed to Huntington Beach Hospital, where she died. When officers notified her mother, she became so distraught that she was also taken to the hospital for treatment, authorities said.

When the department's report is completed, it will be forwarded to the district attorney's office for review.

One of the officers had worked for the Huntington Beach police for 1 1/2 years, and the other had three years' law enforcement experience.

"This is a tragic case -- tragic for the officers too," Amormino said. "They found their lives threatened."

Times staff writer Mai Tran contributed to this report.

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