Woman Killed in Police Chase Suffered Mental Health Issues: Family - NBC 7 San Diego

Woman Killed in Police Chase Suffered Mental Health Issues: Family

Michelle Shirley's family spoke exclusively with NBC 7 on Tuesday

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    NBC 7’s Megan Tevrizian spoke with Theresa Bish, a mental health advocate, who explained how a state law could have helped the parents of a San Diego woman shot by Torrance police. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016)

    Parents of a San Diego woman fatally shot by police officers in Torrance say their daughter, a law school graduate who had just moved to the Los Angeles area, suffered from bipolar disorder.

    They spoke with NBC 7 exclusively on Tuesday, a day after Michelle Shirley, 39, was killed.

    Shirley was behind the wheel of a vehicle that led police on an eight-minute chase through Torrance.

    The chase ended with a barrage of bullets fired into her car, the entire incident recorded on video, authorities said.

    Shirley's parents told NBC 7 their daughter was a graduate of the University of California, San Diego and Loyola of Chicago Law School. She was a successful entrepreneur, but for the last 10 years she struggled with bipolar disorder.

    According to the family, there were several psychological episodes that led Shirley to run-ins with police in San Diego as well.

    “I always had the same prayer and that is, 'God if she gets sick, please don't let anything happen to her. Let her get the help,'" said her mother, Debra Shirley.

    “When she did not get rest, when she doesn't sleep regular, she spirals out of control,” father Ronnie Shirley said.

    Shirley moved to Los Angeles two weeks ago and became an Uber driver to make some extra money to help her advertising business, her parents said.

    “She was happy," according to her father, who added that he spoke to her Friday. "She was driving and she just said, 'I am happy,'" Ronnie Shirley said.

    Family: Woman in Torrance Shooting Struggled With Mental Illness

    [DGO] Family: Woman in Torrance Shooting Struggled With Mental Illness
    Parents of a San Diego woman killed by Torrance police spoke exclusively to NBC 7's Dave Summers. They told us Michelle Lee Shirley was a mother, a law school graduate and business owner who struggled with bipolar disorder.
    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016)

    Just three days later, Shirley became involved in the police pursuit.

    Officers were called to the residential neighborhood by someone reporting a reckless driver.

    After the eight minute chase, officers forced the vehicle into a spin, then surrounded it.

    From the video, it appears Shirley attempted to escape, slamming into police cars. That's when officers are seen apparently shooting, firing more than 20 rounds into her car.

    “I know the officers had no clue of what they are dealing with, they just shot. They're thinking 'we have a crazy person just shoot them,'" her father said.

    “To take that kind of aggressive action, to just, like spray bullets, I could not imagine something like that,” her mother added.

    The Shirley family says they appreciate the officers who had helped Shirley get help in the past. But they want this tragedy to serve as a lesson to police in the future.

    “There is value in human lives that makes you stop for a minute and think about this person as a human being,” Debra Shirley said.

    Torrance police confirmed that the shots came from three officers. All three are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

    One officer was injured, then treated and released from a hospital the same day.