Family of Actress Killed by Police Files $20 Million Wrongful Death Claim

Attorney Vicki Sarmiento and friends of actress Vanessa Marquez held a news conference on Feb. 20, about the the actress's death. (Credit: B. Higgs)

Attorneys representing the mother of former ER actress Vanessa Marquez, who was shot and killed by police officers last year in South Pasadena, Calif., filed a $20 million wrongful death claim against the city on Wednesday.

Officers responded to Marquez’s home during a welfare check call on Aug. 30, 2018. Police said at the time the 49-year-old actress was uncooperative and pulled out a weapon, which turned out to be a BB gun, prompting officers to open fire.

Attorney Vicki Sarmiento, whose firm is representing Marquez’s mother, Delia McElfresh, held a news conference Wednesday night in front of South Pasadena City Hall to discuss the claim — one of the steps before a lawsuit. Sarmiento said police officers overreacted.

“This was mishandled from the minute the call came in and officers were dispatched to the home,” Sarmiento stated.

Read MoreFriends Hold Vigil for ‘ER’ Actress Killed by South Pasadena Police

Vanessa Marquez (Credit: IMDb)
 Vanessa Marquez appeared on “ER” from 1994 to 1997. (Credit: IMDb)

Marquez’s mother did not speak at the news conference, but several of her friends and former co-stars from the Oscar-nominated 1988 film Stand and Deliver did.

Marquez’s attorney and friends are demanding officials release the police report, autopsy report and police body camera video from the shooting.

“It’s been six months and we are no closer to answers,” stated Marquez’s friend Minerva Garcia. “What are they hiding?”

The City of South Pasadena released a statement saying the case remains under investigation.

“The officer involved shooting is currently being investigated by two independent entities, the Sheriff’s Department and L.A. District Attorney’s office,” South Pasadena spokesman John Pope said in a statement Wednesday. “We will not be commenting until the results of the investigations are complete.”

Marquez’s former co-stars are calling on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to include her during the In Memoriam segment at Sunday’s Oscars.

“We are the keepers of Vanessa’s legacy,” Stand and Deliver actor Daniel Villarreal in a statement. “It will be meaningful to have Vanessa’s image on-screen at this year’s Oscars. Latinos will see themselves in her eyes and that is power.”

An online petition has been created for fans to lobby the Academy as well. It has already gathered more than 5,200 signatures.