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Family of Knife Wielding, Mentally Ill Woman Files $25 Million Claim Against City In Jan. 19 Fatal Police Shooting

We post claim, verbatim

(January 28, 2002) -- The family of a knife wielding, mentally ill woman who was fatally shot by LB police on January 19 has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim (a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit) against the City of Long Beach.

During a news conference today at his Beverly Hills law office, attorney John E. Sweeney, who represents the woman's daughter and son, called the events "nothing less than a summary execution by the Long Beach police department."

We post below the pertinent portion of the claim filed by his office against the City.

KnifePolice say Marcella Byrd, 57, had just finished robbing an area business when police found her with the knife (right) walking south on Pine Ave. toward the downtown business district.

Officers say they repeatedly told Ms. Byrd to drop her knife, then tried non-lethal "bean bag" rounds which had no effect on Ms. Byrd, variously described as weighing between 250-300 pounds.

Police said Ms. Byrd raised her knife to a throwing position toward the officers, causing them to shoot her in fear for their safety. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she died after undergoing surgery.

California law requires that a claim be filed before filing a formal court lawsuit seeking damages against a city. Such claims are routinely referred to the City Attorney's office, which handles them on behalf of the City. If the City Attorney's office denies the claim, the claimant then has the option of filing suit.

The pertinent portion of the claim filed in the Byrd case can be viewed at: Claim re Jan. 19 LBPD shooting.

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