Actor Vanessa Marquez, who appeared on former hospital drama ER in a multi-episode guest role, was shot and killed by police officers in Pasadena, Calif., on Thursday.
Police officers were called to Marquez’s home by a landlord to check on her welfare — reports say the 49-year-old appeared to be mentally unwell — and when they arrived midday, she was having seizures and appeared dishevelled and unable to care for herself. Officers called paramedics and a mental health specialist to the scene, and they continued to try to communicate with her for 90 minutes.
At one point, things escalated and Marquez allegedly armed herself with a BB gun and pointed it at the officers.
In response, the police claim, they opened fire, at the time unaware that Marquez wasn’t brandishing an actual handgun. This was later confirmed by Sheriff Lt. Joe Mendoza of the South Pasadena police. She was shot, and ultimately pronounced dead at the hospital.
Mendoza told reporters at the scene that she seemed “gravely disabled.” ABC News said that there had multiple police visits to the property in the past.
In 2017, Marquez alleged that she was blacklisted from ER by then-co-star George Clooney after she complained of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Clooney later denied the accusations, saying if they were true, he had nothing to do with them.
“I had no idea Vanessa was blacklisted,” Clooney said in a statement. “I take her at her word. I was not a writer or a producer or a director on that show. I had nothing to do with casting. I was an actor and only an actor. If she was told I was involved in any decision about her career then she was lied to. The fact that I couldn’t affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn’t.”
Marquez starred in the first three seasons of ER as nurse Wendy Goldman, appearing in a grand total of 27 episodes from 1994 to 1997. She went on to bit roles in the ’90s sitcom Malcolm & Eddie, and a little-known TV movie Fire & Ice.
She was also a subject in the second episode of Intervention in 2005, in which she admitted she was near bankruptcy and was addicted to shopping.
In a Facebook post from last year, Marquez said she was entering “that Norma Desmond stage that some actors do. Watching their old stuff on tv.”
“A person only has so much strength and I’m afraid I’ve used all mine up,” she wrote at the time. “Why couldn’t my dream have lasted for more than just those few years?”
She also frequently wrote about her various illnesses and claimed she had celiac disease, chronic pain and immune disorders.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is assisting with an investigation into the events that transpired and led to her death.