Speed Reads

police shootings

Former ER actress Vanessa Marquez fatally shot by police

Actress Vanessa Marquez, best known for her role as a nurse on the medical drama ER, was killed by police officers in California Thursday, the South Pasadena Police Department confirmed Friday.

The police were performing a welfare check on Marquez, 49, who was observed to be having seizures and a mental health crisis. She picked up a BB gun the officers said they believed to be a semiautomatic handgun, and police opened fire. Marquez was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. No officers were injured, and their body camera footage will not be released for at least half a year while the shooting is investigated.

"Heart sick to learn of the tragic passing of my friend, Vanessa Marquez," her Stand and Deliver costar Lou Diamond Phillips wrote on Twitter. "I was not aware of the pain she endured due to her conditions and saddened to think that they may have contributed to her untimely demise. Her light and her soul still shine in the performances she gave us."

A 2015 study found those with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other Americans. Similarly, a Washington Post tally of police shootings this year finds about one in five involved a mental health crisis. Many police departments are regularly tasked with handling mental health crises though officers are rarely trained for the responsibility.