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Woman's shooting by Long Beach police is investigated

December 28, 2007|Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Times Staff Writer

Long Beach police are investigating the death of a 40-year-old woman who was shot by officers Wednesday afternoon after she pointed a replica handgun at them.

Kami Stevens was taken to a hospital after the shooting and died a few hours later, according to Long Beach Police Sgt. Dina Zapalski.

Officers shot Stevens after responding to reports of a dispute in the 1000 block of Coronado Avenue, Zapalski said.

It was the second time this month that police had responded to a call for help at the apartment, Zapalski said. She said Stevens had a history of mental illness.

At first, Stevens spoke with the officers and a mental evaluation team trained to deal with mentally ill suspects, Long Beach Officer Jackie Bezart said. Stevens appeared distraught about a recent break-up with her girlfriend, but then she went inside the apartment, climbed onto the roof of the building and threatened to hurt herself, Zapalski said.

A short time later, Stevens emerged from the apartment, and officers said it appeared that she was pointing a handgun at them. At that instant, officers fired, they said.

Zapalski would not give the number of officers at the scene, how many of them fired at Stevens or how many shots were fired, citing department policy. She did say that "more than one" shot was fired at the scene by officers.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office had not reviewed Stevens' case or performed an autopsy as of late Thursday, coroner's officials said.

Zapalski said Stevens had an "extensive" criminal record and history of mental illness. Los Angeles County court records show Stevens was convicted of annoying students at an adult school in 2000 and disorderly conduct in 1992. On the morning of Dec. 19, Long Beach police were called to Stevens' home, Zapalski said. Officers found Stevens dousing herself with gasoline and threatening to set herself on fire, Bezart said.

"She said she wanted to hurt herself and said next time, she would get a gun," Zapalski said.

At that time, officers persuaded Stevens to let them take her to a hospital, where she was treated, Zapalski said.



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