Woman Fatally Shot by Torrance Police Had Bipolar Disorder: Family

From his San Diego home, Ronnie Shirley said he knew exactly what was happening as he watched cell phone video of his daughter's erratic driving spree.

"She had no idea what was going on," he said. "She was not in her mind at all."

He said his daughter, Michelle Lee Shirley, had bipolar disorder.

"She was just special," he said. "Michelle was just special."

Michelle, 39, was shot and killed Monday by police in Torrance after she steered her car at officers at the end of a chase.

The shooting occurred about 2:35 p.m. outside a gas station at Cabrillo Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard, according to Torrance police Sgt. Paul Kranke.

Michelle Lee Shirley died at a hospital a short time later, Kranke said.


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Ronnie Shirley said that incident was her disorder spiraling out of control.

He could not bring himself to watch the cell phone video.

"I understand the police did not know what they were dealing with, but not knowing that didn't make it OK to just shoot," he said.

The family said Michelle -- who had a law degree -- was a mother to a 14-year-old boy and wanted to become an attorney to help people. They said she moved to LA just two weeks ago to make money as an uber driver.

"To just spray someone with bullets, I could not imagine something like that," said Debra Shirley, her mother.

Michelle appeared in public service announcements, acting as a spokeswoman to bring awareness to the bipolar disorder she suffered from. 

Her parents want to continue their daughter's message: bringing awareness to mental illness.

"It mattered to us -- it really mattered to us," Debra Shirley said. "She was loved by people."

Shirley's parents said they want police to make changes to the way they respond to situations where the subject may suffer from mental illness.

Torrance police told NBC4 the three officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave.

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