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DOUBT CAST ON REPORT OF SHOOTING S.

Byline: Phillip W. Browne Staff Writer

A lawyer investigating the death of a homeless woman who was shot by an LAPD officer told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday that police ignored a witness who proves she was shot while running away.

Attorney Leo Terrell called a recently released LAPD report on the death of Margaret Laverne Mitchell ``a self-serving investigation'' and said, based on LAPD witness interviews he's reviewed, Mitchell was not a threat to officers when she was killed.

Terrell urged the Police Commission to consider the witness statements, which contradict the official version, in its review of the May 21 shooting.

``Margaret Mitchell never stopped running, and this proves she was not a threat to the officers,'' Terrell told the commission after playing excerpts of police interview tapes with the eyewitness, who was questioned five days after the shooting.

``This is not big-mouth Leo Terrell making allegations. These are your own detectives and witnesses talking,'' Terrell said.

Commission President Gerald Chaleff said the Police Commission already has a copy of the tape containing the statement.

On the tape, the eyewitness, whom Terrell declined to identify, is heard saying ``I had my eye on her when she got shot. She was running and pulling the cart with her. They shot her and she fell under the newsstand.''

Then the witness described the officer's reaction: ``His whole complexion changed color. He looked very nervous.''

LAPD Deputy Chief David Gascon said the witness's statement was not covered up, but was discredited based on forensics work completed by the Coroner's Office.

``The information from that witness is largely discredited by the facts and physical evidence,'' Gascon said. ``There's no amount of spinning Terrell or the media can do to change the facts.''

A coroner's report made public in November shows that Mitchell, a mentally ill woman, was shot in the chest by Officer Edward Larrigan from one to six feet away, and at an upward angle.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 8, 1999
Words:326
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