A 39-year-old mother who battled bipolar disorder for a decade was fatally shot by California police after a high-speed chase Monday afternoon. (Oct. 31) The woman was later identified as San Diego resident Michelle Lee Shirley.
Several 911 calls warned Torrance police of an “erratic and reckless driver” who fled a crash site with their side air bags deployed. Cops boxed in Shirley, who then accelerated forward causing an officer to begin shooting.
“I don’t know what was going through her head as she was driving or trying to get away,” Shirley’s mother, Debra Shirley said. “I can’t even imagine. But why did they have to kill her?”
It’s unclear how many times Shirley was shot, but she was later taken to the hospital where she died. Back in 2011, Shirley participated in a video about mental illness titled “It’s Up to Us” and spoke about first encountering her illness during law school.
“I started sleeping less and less,” Shirley said in the video. “I started having an overload of creative ideas one after another and I wasn’t completing any. I did strange things. One time I went out and just bought a bunch of plants and gave them away. I shaved my head.”
Shirley also said she suffered from hallucinations, which resulted in her setting her condo on fire. “I had this crazy idea that my vent was a fireplace,” she added. Relatives aren’t sure if Shirley was taking her medication at the time of her death.
Watch the 2011 video with Shirley explaining her disorder below.