LA to pay nearly $1 million for police killing of homeless lady

LOS ANGELES - The city agreed Friday to pay $975,000 to the estate of a mentally ill homeless woman who was shot to death by a police officer when she allegedly lunged at him with a screwdriver.

The City Council voted 12-0 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf Margaret Mitchell's son, Richard.

''It is a tragedy,'' Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. He also criticized the Police Department for a series of high-profile shooting deaths this year.

''The number of controversial or questionable officer-involved shootings does not put this department in a good light,'' he said.

Mitchell was shot to death May 21, 1999, after two officers stopped her to determine whether a shopping cart she was pushing was stolen. Police said one officer shot the woman when she lunged at him with a 12-inch screwdriver.

In February, the Police Commission contradicted Police Chief Bernard Parks and ruled the shooting violated department policy. In April, the commission announced formation of a task force to address issues involving police and the mentally ill.

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