In 2018, ER actress Vanessa Marquez was involved in a fatal standoff with police, that ended with her being shot dead. Following the tragic shooting, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the L.A. Sheriff’s homicide bureau issued a statement on the situation, revealing her struggle with mental health.
"At the time [of the shooting] there was an LA County mental health clinician here with the officers," Mendoza said. "They began to communicate with her, she became very uncooperative and during that contact she armed herself with a handgun, she pointed it at the officers and an officer-involved shooting occurred."
The news came as quite a shock to many, as most of Marquez's former co-stars and friends did not appear to be aware of any significant mental or emotional health struggles that she was suffering with.
Scroll down to read more about Marquez's life, career, and untimely death.
Marquez was most well-known for playing Nurse Wendy Goldman on ER, from 1994 to 1997. She also appeared in an episode of Seinfeld, as well as movies such as Stand and Deliver and Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence.
Other TV series that Marquez appeared on include Melrose Place, Malcolm & Eddie, and Wiseguy, which would mark her final acting performance in 2009.
Accusations Against George Clooney
In 2017, Marquez raised allegations against her former ER co-star Clooney, alleging how he "helped blacklist me when I spoke up about harassment on ER... Women who don’t (sic) play the game lose careers. I did."
She also alleged that she had been "racially and sexually" harassed on the set of the hit medical drama. However, Marquez did not seem to imply that she was accusing Clooney in any of the harassment incidents.
The day of Marquez's death, officers responded to a welfare check call at her home. While there, Marquez reportedly became distraught and pulled a "BB-type" gun on them that "resembled a semi-automatic handgun."
Per the South Pasadenan, The officers responded by returning fire, ultimately leading to the woman's death.
At the time of the initial report, the suspect's identity had not immediately been shared by authorities.
Controversial Death (cont.)
In addition to Lt. Mendoza's aforementioned statement, he added that police were advised Marquez "was undergoing some medical problems, some seizures, it appeared that the female was gravely disabled,"
"I don’t have any more specific details due to the fact that officers have not been interviewed as of this time," he added.
It was later that Marquez was revealed to be the suspect, though the the South Pasadenan had noted that an unnamed source had previously confirmed this.
Once the news of Marquez's tragic death had been reported, many of her peers came out to memorialize her.
"We tragically lost a member of our ER family yesterday. Vanessa Marquez played a nurse when the show first aired. Sending out condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in eternal peace," tweeted former ER star Eriq La Salle.
"This is an absolute tragedy. We must help people who are suffering from mental instability issues and full blown mental illness. Millions of Americans are vulnerable," actor James Woods added. "For every well known person like #VanessaMarquez, so many others fall through the cracks."
Police Body Cam Footage
More recently, the district attorney's office completed its investigation into Marquez's death, and determined that the officers involved acted in "lawful self-defense." Authorities also released body cam footage of the shooting, which reportedly revealed that the officers repeatedly attempted to get Marquez to put down the weapon she was holding, but she did not.
It wasn't until afterwards that they learned the gun she was holding was a BB gun, and not a Beretta 92FS firearm, as presumed.
A memo from the D.A's office went on to read: "From the perspective of Carrillo and Perez, Marquez was armed with a firearm and acting erratically. Despite efforts to communicate in conjunction with fire commands, Marquez remained silent.
"She held the handgun in a manner that conveyed a readiness to use it and descended the stairs with that apparent purpose. Carrillo saw the gun pointed in the direction of the officers and Perez described a situation in which Marquez could have 'opened fire' on them in an instant. Both officers, in that moment, actually and reasonably feared for their lives."
Last year, Marquez's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of South Pasadena, in the amount of $20 million, but at this time there does not appear to be an update the status of the case.