On Monday, a woman was shot and killed by Torrance, Calif., police officers after she rammed her car into a police cruiser.
39-year-old Michelle Shirley, who has chronicled her struggles with bipolar disorder on YouTube, was said to be driving erratically on the wrong side of the road.
According to Torrance police Sgt. Paul Kranke, officers received a call about an erratic driver. When officers arrived on the scene, Shirley was driving erratically and accelerated and rammed into a cruiser as officers fire multiple shots into the car
“The driver was driving erratically on the wrong side of the road, almost hit several vehicles, had traffic collision damage and the air bag deployed,” Kranke said.
An officer bumped the vehicle to get the driver to stop next to a Chevron station. The driver then tried to escape and drove forward toward several officers, Kranke said.
— REG (@D_Reg_) October 31, 2016
“I don’t know what was going through her head as she was driving or trying to get away,” her mother, Debra Shirley, said Tuesday. “I can’t even imagine. But why did they have to kill her?
“I feel like they paint people of color with a brush that says: ‘You’re disposable.’ I really feel like police are not equipped to deal with mental illness in the field. Shoot the tires or disable the car.”
In a video posted to YouTube, Shirley discussed her mental illness.
“I was working hard to achieve my dream of becoming an attorney,” she said on the video. “I was active in my church. I had my own car and apartment and was working a full-time job while pulling all-nighters to keep my grades up to get into law school. I loved the feeling I got from being recognized for my hard work.
“But then I started sleeping less and less. I started having an overload of creative ideas one after another and I wasn’t completing any. I did strange things. One time I went out and just bought a bunch of plants and gave them away. I shaved my head …”
Shirley’s family says although she suffered from mental illness she was never violent, and they believed she may have been off her meds.