Niani Finlayson: Community leaders call for justice in deputy shooting death of 27-year-old Lancaster mother


LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) — Community activists are calling for justice and a full transparent investigation into the death of a 27-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a deputy in Lancaster after she called for help in a domestic dispute.

Niani Finlayson was killed Dec. 4 after deputies responded to the domestic violence call at an apartment in the 2100 block of East Avenue J-8 in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“Yes! Hello. I need the police here. This man, he won’t get out of my house now,” she is heard saying in the 911 audio recording.

Last week, the department released bodycam video showing the moments deputies arrived. The footage shows Finlayson holding a large kitchen knife in one hand when she opened the door of her apartment.

She was shot moments later.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department released bodycam video of when a deputy shot and killed a 27-year-old woman who called for help in a domestic dispute.

Several community groups joined together Monday to demand answers about the shooting.

“We call this an unjustified shooting which could have been de-escalated and avoided altogether,” said Bishop V. Jesse Smith with the African American Leadership Coalition.

In the bodycam video, one of the responding deputies is seen handing a Taser to a fellow officer as they entered the apartment.

“The Taser was handed from one deputy to the next but not used at all,” one community member said during Monday’s press conference.

In the footage, Finlayson moves from the doorway and her 9-year-old daughter appears to point at the man, who authorities say was her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Finlayson appears in the footage once again, this time appearing to hold the man with one hand while still holding the knife in the other.

That’s when one of the deputies grabbed his gun and fired multiple times, killing her.

The family of a woman shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy earlier this month has begun the process of suing the department and county for $30 million.

Activists say they want accountability and change in the sheriff’s department’s policies regarding domestic violence incidents.

In a statement, Sheriff Robert Luna said the footage was released “ahead of the legal timeframe to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and the visual representation of the facts in this case. As the comprehensive review process continues the Department will gain additional insight into the incident with the goal of improving public safety.”

Community activists say the deputy who killed Finlayson should be fired.

“We’re not talking about removing law enforcement. We just want good law enforcement. We need them,” said Pastor Brian Johnson.

Meanwhile, Finlayson’s family is expected to file a lawsuit seeking $30 million in damages.

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