UPDATED, 2:30 PM: A federal judge has approved a settlement in a wrongful death suit filed by the mother of an ER actress who was fatally shot by police who’d been sent to her South Pasadena home in 2018 to conduct a wellness check, court papers show. Read details of the case below.
South Pasadena City Attorney Theresa Highsmith said the parties agreed to a $450,000 settlement, most of which will come from the city’s litigation risk pool. The case has been permanently dismissed.
“Any loss of life is tragic,” South Pasadena Mayor Diana Mahmud said in a prepared statement regarding the settlement.
PREVIOUSLY, February 20, 2019: Attorneys representing the mother of former ER Actress Vanessa Marquez have filed a wrongful death claim against the City of South Pasadena. Marquez, who recurred as nurse Wendy Goldman on early seasons of the 1990s hit medical drama, was fatally shot by police in South Pasadena on Aug. 30, 2018. She was 49.
Police said at the time of the shooting that officers were conducting a welfare check at Marquez’s home when she allegedly pulled out a “BB-type” replica gun, causing an officer to open fire in response. Marquez was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Legal documents obtained by Deadline today show Marquez’s mother, Delia McElfresh, is being represented by the Law Offices of Vicki I. Sarmiento, located in Alhambra, Calif. The claim was filed by Sarmiento and Dale K. Galipo.
The claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, alleges battery, negligence, unlawful entry, false arrest and imprisonment, wrongful death, negligent training, conspiracy, seizure of property, failure to summon prompt medical care and violation of the Bane Act — which forbids acts of violence because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, etc. The attorneys said in a statement that Marquez was “an accomplished Latina actor.”
“I can confirm that the city received the claim,” South Pasadena government spokesman John Pope said in a statement. “The officer involved shooting is currently being investigated by two independent entities, the Sheriff’s Department and L.A. District Attorney’s office. We will not be commenting until the results of the investigations are complete.”
The attorneys said they are also considering filing a claim against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which was brought in to investigate the shooting. The lawyers said sheriff’s deputies seized Marquez’s laptop and cell phones during their investigation, and have failed to return the items.
Marquez made headlines in 2017, when she tweeted that former co-worker and then-ER star George Clooney “helped blacklist me when I spoke up about harassment on ER.”
Clooney released a statement at the time saying: “I had no idea Vanessa was blacklisted. I take her at her word. I was not a writer or a producer or a director on that show. I had nothing to do with casting. I was an actor and only an actor. If she was told I was involved in any decision about her career, then she was lied to. The fact that I couldn’t affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn’t.”
In addition to ER, Marquez’s credits include Stand and Deliver, a recurring role on Malcolm and Eddie and roles on Melrose Place and as the Cuban ambassador’s secretary in the 1992 Seinfeld episode “The Cheever Letters.” Her last TV credit was the 2001 TV movie Fire & Ice.
The actress’s friends and relatives have asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to include Marquez in the In Memoriam segment during Sunday’s Oscars.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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