Los Angeles, CA — All too often in this country, police are called out to check on the health of an individual who may be physically or mentally troubled. And, all too often, instead of providing that person with help, police show up and hurt, arrest, or even kill them. This process is known as a welfare check and a former actress from the hit show "ER" just became the latest victim to receive this 'help.'
Vanessa Marquez, 49, hadn't harmed anyone when police showed up at her South apartment on Thursday. The landlord had simply become concerned that she may have fallen ill and wasn't taking care of herself, so he called police for help. Sadly, this help came in the form of government issued bullets.
Adding to the disturbing nature of this call for help was the fact that according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Joe Mendoza, when police arrived at the apartment of Marquez on Thursday afternoon, she was having a seizure.
“It appeared that the female was gravely disabled,” Mendoza said.
As the LA Times reports:
Officers and a county mental health clinician spoke with Marquez for more than 90 minutes in an effort to persuade her to accept medical help. Police said she was “uncooperative,” may have been suffering from mental health issues and appeared to be unable to care for herself.
While they were talking, Marquez grabbed what officers thought was a semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at them, Mendoza said.
Two officers fired at her, striking her at least once in the torso, Mendoza said. Marquez was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The officers retrieved a weapon after the shooting and determined it was a BB gun that resembled a pistol, Mendoza said.
While providing 'help' to Marquez, officers killed her—a tragic irony indeed. What's more, police are refusing to release an image of the alleged BB gun the gravely disabled, sickly woman, in the middle of a seizure presented to cause them to fear for their lives.
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According to the Times, Marquez was best known for her recurring role as nurse Wendy Goldman on the popular medical drama “ER,” which ran for 15 seasons until 2009. Marquez appeared on the show from 1994 to 1997. She also starred as student Ana Delgado in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” which told the story of East Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante.
According to Variety, Marquez said that she suffered from immune disorders, including celiac disease, and that she experienced chronic pain and was “homebound.”
“A person only has so much strength and I’m afraid I’ve used all mine up,” she wrote in a social media post in January 2017. “Why couldn’t my dream have lasted for more than just those few years?”
Toni McGhee, a friend of Marquez, wrote in a statement that Marquez just wanted to spend her last days alive in her home and die there.
“She told me she wouldn’t mind passing away at home and haunting the beautiful building she lived in as she was in love with where she lived ...” McGhee wrote.
While she certainly got her wish of dying in her home, she was definitely not allowed to simply pass away.
Sadly, police providing help during welfare checks turns out to be anything but. As TFTP recently reported, an Arizona family has learned the hard way what calling the police to help a relative can often look like as their grandmother was hospitalized after a welfare check. Showing their incompetence, the welfare check was for another family member but the police assaulted the innocent grandmother anyway. Luckily for the 84-year-old grandmother, she escaped with her life after being thrown to the ground and attacked by cops. Marquez cannot say the same.