Family of woman killed by Torrance police demands answers

Friday, November 11, 2016
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The family Michelle Lee Shirley demanded answers from Torrance police about their deadly use of force.

TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- A family questioned why Torrance police officers killed Michelle Lee Shirley, a young woman studying for the state bar exam who was shot after a short pursuit.

Michelle Lee Shirley was shot and killed by officers on Oct. 31. Her family said police still hadn't answered their questions and they don't know what lead up to the use of deadly force.

"We don't know anything. We're asking for help. We want to know from you what happened," family member Evelyn Williams said.

At the time of the shooting, investigators said Michelle Lee Shirley was driving erratically on the wrong side of the road with the side door airbag deployed.

When officers tried to pull her over, officials said she led them on a short pursuit.

Once Michelle Lee Shirley was pinned in by patrol cars, authorities said she backed into one cruiser then forward into another.

That's when police said they opened fire.

"There was no reason to shoot and if you see the video the second the car moves a little bit they start shootings indiscriminately," lawyer Danny Abir who is representing Michelle Lee Shirely's family said.

Michelle Lee Shirley's family said she received her law degree and was studying for the California bar exam. They said she suffered from bipolar disorder, but was not a violent person.

Her father said the witness video showed his daughter was in distress and needed help.

"It looked as if she was fading in and out of consciousness while she was driving," Rodney Shirley, Michelle Lee Shirley's father said.

In an attempt to have some of their questions answered, the family's attorneys filed a notice of preservation of evidence on Thursday.

"It's a legal document that demands police and anybody in possession of documents or any sort of evidence to preserve it in its original unaltered form without making any changes to it," lawyer Boris Treyzon who is representing Michelle Lee Shirely's family said.

The family and their lawyers said once they go over the evidence they would be able to determine if race played a factor in Michelle Lee Shirely's death.

ABC7 reached out to the Torrance Police Department for comment. They said due to a potential lawsuit they were not commenting on the case.

The family said at this time they were not looking to file a lawsuit against the department, but that they just wanted closure.