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Mid-City slaying shows the difficulty of protecting domestic violence victims

November 13, 2009 |  7:42 am
Ois2The slaying of a Mid-City woman who had just filed a domestic violence complaint against her boyfriend underscores the difficulties of stopping an attacker determined to strike his or her victim, domestic violence experts said.

“I’ve worked with offenders for the last 15 years, and they don’t care if there’s one restraining order, five restraining orders. If they want to get to the victim, they’ll get to the victim," said Elizabeth Vera, director of Community Support Services in L.A. "They will do everything physically and psychologically to abuse their victim."

Los Angeles police investigators continued today to investigate how a man eluded officers watching a Mid-City apartment and managed to kill Flor Medrano, who had just filed a domestic violence complaint.

Wilshire Division officers who specialize in domestic abuse were on the lookout for the man after taking  Medrano's report, counseling her and returning her to her Cochran Avenue apartment Wednesday evening.

The officers escorted Medrano, 30, to her door, checked to make sure the apartment appeared safe and then returned to their unmarked patrol car to watch for the suspect, officials said. The officers later tried to check on Medrano via cellphone and tell her they were leaving, but they were cut off. When they reestablished contact and heard screaming, the officers rushed to the apartment and saw a man stabbing Medrano.

Unable to gain entry through a metal security door, the officers fired through a front window, fatally wounding the attacker, according to police sources who asked not to be named because of the ongoing investigation.

Vera said she was not surprised by the determination shown by the suspect. She said offenders are often so focused on the assault that nothing else concerns them. “Chances are with most offenders, my experience is if they believe they’re going to die, they’re going to take their victim with them. It’s almost suicide by cops.”

Vera said the greatest time of risk for a victim is when they’re trying to leave an offender.

“That is when she is most likely to be assaulted or murdered,” she said. 

The chain of events in the Mid-City case began Wednesday afternoon when Medrano flagged down patrol officers, saying she had been raped, according to the Police Department sources.

At the Wilshire station, she declined to go forward with the charges, the sources said, but told officers that she had been seeing the man off and on and that he was abusing her physically.

During the course of the investigation, the suspect sent Medrano several text messages, leading investigators to believe he was possibly in the area. Officers went to Medrano's apartment but did not find him, Capt. Eric Davis of Wilshire Division said.

Medrano was counseled about seeking a restraining order and going to a domestic violence shelter, but said she wanted to go home, sources said.

Vera said it's common for victims of domestic violence to turn down shelter.

“There’s this sense that even if they seek assistance that they’re not going to be protected from the offender, because for the victim a restraining order is a piece of paper," she said. "It doesn’t stop a bullet, it doesn’t stop a knife, it doesn’t stop an assault.”

Here are some resources for victims of domestic violence:

L.A. County Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 978-3600

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233

Laura's House (Orange County): (949) 498-1511

Valley Trauma Center Rape Crisis Center: (818) 886-0453

Interval House (Orange County): (714) 891-8121

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: A woman who said she is Flor Medrano's friend weeps while talking on the phone as police investigate Medrano's death and the police-shooting death of the suspect in the slaying. Medrano had filed a domestic abuse report several hours earlier. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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