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Mother of Vanessa Marquez Hits South Pasadena with Wrongful Death Lawsuit

— February 26, 2021

The mother of late actress Vanessa Marquez and the city of South Pasadena recently agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit for $450,000.

Earlier this week, a federal judge approved a $450,000 settlement, bring an end to a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by Delia McElfresh, the mother of Vanessa Marquez. Marquez was a well-known actress for her role in the popular drama, “ER.” Tragically, she was fatally shot by police in 2018 when they arrived at her South Pasadena home to conduct a wellness check, according to court documents. 

Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via
Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via

The lawsuit was filed last August in Los Angeles federal court. In named the city of South Pasadena, its former police chief, and other officers as defendants. In filing the suit, McElfresh argued against “law enforcement’s assertion that the 49-year-old actress was shot when she brandished what officers believed to be a gun.”

When commenting on the recent settlement, Theresa Highsmith, the South Pasadena City Attorney said the parties involved agreed to the settlement, “most of which will come from the city’s litigation risk pool.” Diana Mahmud, the South Pasadena Mayor also chimed in about the settlement and said, “Any loss of life is tragic.”

What happened, though? How did such a tragic incident occur? Well, according to the lawsuit, Marquez had a history of seizures. Her mother argued in the lawsuit that she was “shot when she was not facing the officers, when the officers were a safe distance away from her, and when there was no imminent threat of serious injury or death to the officers or others.” However, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office pushed back against the allegations and concluded that the “officers acted in self-defense.” It added that “Marquez pointed what appeared to be a handgun at them.” Upon further investigation, it was discovered that “the weapon turned out to be a BB-type gun that resembled a semi-automatic handgun.”

While commenting on the incident, Sgt. Joe Mendoza of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said, “She (Marquez) was suffering from some problems, an eating disorder…When they (officers) arrived, she was suffering a seizure.”

Additionally, the Sheriff’s department noted that a “county mental-health clinician was with South Pasadena officers at the scene, and they spoke with Marquez for over an hour and a half in an attempt to offer her medical care.” Unfortunately, “she then armed herself with a handgun and pointed it at the officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred.” It wasn’t until later that it was discovered the gun was in fact a BB gun.

In addition to her role on “ER,” Marquez appeared in multiple guest roles on popular TV series, such as “Seinfeld,” “Melrose Place,” and “Wiseguy.” She also appeared in “Stand and Deliver,” a 1988 film.


Mother of ‘ER’ actress killed by South Pasadena police settles for $450,000

Vanessa Marquez’s mother settles wrongful death lawsuit for $450,000 after the ER actress was shot and killed by South Pasadena police during a wellness check in 2018

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