Black Social Media Users React to Deputy Shooting of Distressed Black Woman

Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The “White lady walks into the police station, and then shoots it up and still is alive.” Also, “she called for help and ended up dead. My gosh, our system is jacked.” Black people, “we must wake up. What we have here is a classic case of a Klansmen disguised as someone who is supposed to protect and serve.”

The comments were many of the more than 9,100 on an Instagram post detailing the deadly shooting of a distressed Black woman who called 911 for assistance from an allegedly abusive ex-boyfriend. In December, Deputy Ty Shelton and another officer arrived at the home of 27-year-old Niani Finlayson who reported a domestic violence incident, noting that her boyfriend had abused her nine-year-old daughter.

When Shelton and his partner arrived, a distressed and scared Finlayson was holding a knife and threatening to stab her ex-boyfriend if he wasn’t removed from the home. On bodycam footage released recently, Shelton is heard ordering his partner to taser Finlayson, but within a split second and with Finlayson’s daughter just a few feet away from her mother, Shelton unleashes four shots into the Black woman who was pronounced dead a short time later.

Reacting to the body-worn camera footage, the victim’s father, Lamont Finlayson, expressed dismay at the shooting.

“When you look at the bodycam, you just have to shake your head and say, ‘Oh my God, what happened? What happened?’” he told KTLA-TV’s Lauren Lyster. “They’re supposed to be there to save her life, not to kill her. You throw the taser down and just automatically go for your weapon within one second. When I look at that, I’m saying, ‘Why is he still on the force?’ Where does this guy come from, where’s his training?”

In response to the case, the Sheriff’s Department said that with all deputy-involved shootings, there is a thorough review process, including by the Office of the Inspector General, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office and more, where every aspect of the shooting is evaluated.

However, it wasn’t the first time that Shelton was involved in a domestic incident that turned deadly. According to the Instagram post, Shelton was also involved in the killing of Michael Thomas, 61, under similar circumstances.

In the aftermath of Finlayson’s shooting, the Sheriff’s Department said its investigation continues as Finlayson’s family started the process of suing the department and county for $30 million. “As she sought to be protected, instead she was executed,” said Brad Gage, an attorney representing Finlayson’s family. “Niani was sitting on the ground when she was shot in the back. Niani was obviously upset that this man had injured her and her daughter but did not take any violent actions.”

Authorities are asking anyone with information regarding the case to call LASD’s Homicide Detectives at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be submitted to L.A. Crimestoppers at 800-222-8477.

“They immediately treated her as the hostile one,” Instagram user “afrocrypt” wrote. “No attempt to calm anything.” Another user, “cymuzik,” posted about the deputy, “Trained to kill.”

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