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Eulogy for `Good Girl' Shot to Death by Police

The Huntington Beach teen, who wielded a knife, had been raped and could have been more gently subdued, her supporters say.

September 07, 2006|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

Ashley MacDonald, killed by two Huntington Beach police officers after allegedly lunging at them with a knife, was eulogized Wednesday as a quiet friend, lover of metal music and a good student who was striving to finish high school.

Nearly 100 friends, family and community figures gathered for her funeral and burial, and many said they were intent on showing that she was not the dangerous woman portrayed by police in the immediate aftermath of her Aug. 25 death.

The 18-year-old's violent death has sparked continuing outrage in the community and has left some baffled as to why a teen armed with a knife couldn't be subdued without the volley of gunfire that took her life.

"This was a good girl who was talented and on her way to better things," said Virginia Ellis, MacDonald's kindergarten teacher at Sun View Elementary School, noting the teen's flair for writing and drawing.

As for the threat MacDonald allegedly posed that fateful day, "a pocket knife is nothing," Ellis said. "They should not have shot her."

Police will not discuss the knife, but witnesses to the shooting say the blade appeared to be about 4 inches.

Julie Martini, who was an aide in MacDonald's kindergarten classroom and helped her and her mother, Lisa Guy, with rides to the store and other needs over the years, said Ashley was a good student who was close to completing high school and hoped to attend beauty school or join the military.

"She was sheltered and quiet. She and her mom were just trying to make it. They reminded me of the Gilmore Girls," Martini said, referring to the TV show about the sister-like bond between a teenager and her single mom.

Other friends said MacDonald at times was troubled by the toll that drugs had seemed to take on loved ones and sought refuge in the brooding, cathartic sounds of groups like Rammstein, Korn and Nine Inch Nails.

Martini and others said they attributed MacDonald's strange behavior last month, as she walked through Sun View Park with a knife in her hand, as a result of having been raped the previous night.

"She had just been through the most traumatic event of her life," Martini said.

While Huntington Beach police are looking into the rape allegation, they said Wednesday that they could not provide specific information about the investigation.

The department has remained tight-lipped on the MacDonald case as it has become the focus of increasing anger in the city because of the teen's death, including regular protests outside police headquarters.

Since the killing, MacDonald's family has won support from people who live or work far beyond the congested neighborhood where MacDonald lived with her mother in an apartment. The mortuary where MacDonald's funeral was held, Dilday Brothers Funeral Directors, donated its services.

The 18-year-old MacDonald, who police initially said was 19, was struck by a volley of bullets by two officers after she failed to heed orders to drop the knife and allegedly lunged at them at close range.

Two witnesses said she appeared not to lunge but to lean away as if to flee.

The officers' shots left 15 wounds in the front of her body and eight in the back, according to a report prepared by Andrew Kahn, the Huntington Beach Hospital emergency doctor who tried to save her. It made no mention of which wounds were entry or exit wounds. A coroner's autopsy report is pending.

The hospital report, which an attorney for MacDonald's mother allowed The Times to review Wednesday, showed a diagram of wounds to the chest, stomach, back, thighs and arms. On another page, possibly prepared by a different hospital employee, the reason for MacDonald's admission was listed as "Gun shot in back."

garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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