Medina Memorial Amplifies Need for Mobile Crisis Unit

May 13, 2023, would have been Guillermo Medina’s 40th birthday; instead it was the date of a street corner memorial attended by family, friends, lawyers, elected officials and news crews from KTLA, NBC, and ABC. The death of the Culver City resident was remembered at the corner of Venice Boulevard and Cardiff Avenue, near the site of the lethal shooting while fleeing on foot from the Culver City Police Department. 

The Medina family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the CCPD,  offering that he did not pose a threat to the officers and should have been provided with medical care.  They are initiating legal action as multiple agencies continue investigating the case, including the California Department of Justice, the California Attorney General’s Office, the L.A. County Coroner’s Office and the Culver City Police Department.

“When someone’s struggling with a mental health crisis that’s a cry for help,” said Carmen Sabater, the lawyer representing the Medina family.  “You’re there to help them. You’re not there to take their life.”

On Dec. 18, 2022, Culver City Police Department responded to a call on a domestic violence incident where a man was reported to be threatening his wife with a handgun. When officers arrived at the address, Median drove away; police pursued. Medina crashed his vehicle into a median, then got out of the car and ran, when he was shot in the back by officers.

At the memorial, Nancy Barba, a friend of the Medina family, stated “This was someone having a mental health crisis. The tragic situation was created because [calling the police] was the only resource available to a family member.”

Police video was released in January, showing Medina running from officers, and dropping to the pavement after being shot in the back. Medina’s family alleges he was unarmed and mentally ill, and officers failed to provide timely medical care that could have prevented his death.

Adriana Medina, his widow,  said she called the police and “clearly expressed” her husband was in crisis. Though he was acting erratically, she told officers he was not hurting anyone and begged them to use restraint, his family alleges. “I made it clear to the dispatcher, clear to the officer who was in my house over and over,” said Adriana. “I said it for an hour.”

The Mobile Crisis Unit, which has been in the Culver City budget since 2021, is still not active and is only now in the process of hiring staff. Modeled after mobile crisis units in other cities, the unit would take calls for help that do not involve criminal activity, specifically mental health issues. The extremely slow motions by the city to get the unit up and running have been highlighted by Medina’s death, an explicit example of the kind of incident where an unarmed response unit could have created an entirely different outcome. 

Judith Martin-Straw

Photo – Medina with family


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