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Officials rule the death of South LA teen Shaylee Mejia accidental.

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The Los Angeles County medical examiner has ruled a 16-year-old girl’s death from blunt force head trauma an accident, raising questions from her family about how thorough and conclusive officials have been with the case.

The girl’s mother has pointed to video from a shocking school fight that showed her daughter, Shaylee Mejia, hitting her head during the melee just days before she died. Her mother, Maria Juarez, blames the high school for failing to protect her daughter, and doesn’t understand how the medical examiner could rule the death an accident.

The determination of the manner and cause of the girl’s death is just one of thousands made by experts each year in Los Angeles County — most of which go without much notice, while others, such as the case of Shaylee, have raised questions about the process.

Juarez told Univision this week that the determination, made last weekend, has left her outraged and disappointed.

“I don’t know why they would call it an accident,” said Luis Carrillo, a civil rights attorney representing Juarez. He said he requested information about how officials came to such a conclusion, but no further details have been shared. He didn’t know if the medical examiner’s investigation included reviewing the cell phone video from the fight.

The deputy medical examiner “should see those videos before she absolutely determines it was an accident,” Carrillo said.

The Times has requested the final autopsy report, but it hasn’t yet been completed. Odey Upko, the chief medical examiner in Los Angeles County, declined to comment on the case pending that final report.

Carrillo and Juarez are now considering obtaining an independent autopsy, Carrillo said.

While finding the manner of death an accident doesn’t automatically close a case, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday that the probe into Shaylee’s death has been completed, citing the accidental death determination. He did not cite any further evidence and referred further questions to the medical examiner’s office.

An LAPD spokesperson had previously said Shaylee had fallen before her death, but few other details were provided.

Carrillo said he is still looking into the case with plans to eventually file a lawsuit.

The Times spoke with forensic pathologist experts about what an accidental death ruling means, how such a decision is made and if that determination could eventually change.

What is a ‘manner of death’?

The manner of death is one of the two major determinations made following an autopsy, along with the cause of death.

“The manner of death is about the circumstances,” Upko said. This is a determination for how an injury or disease led to someone’s death.

There are five possible conclusions for the manner of death:

  • Natural: when a medical issue causes a death, such as a disease, heart attack or pneumonia.
  • Suicide: when someone takes their own life in an intentional act of self-harm.
  • Homicide: when the death is the result of another individual, such as from a shooting, stabbing or fight.
  • Accident: when a death is caused by something unnatural but was also unintentional. This can be a car crash, an overdose or a deadly fall.
  • Undetermined: if an investigator cannot find enough evidence to substantiate a determination, this will be the finding. This is rarely used by medical examiners, experts said.

This determination is made after the body is examined in an autopsy and an additional investigation is done, said Iain M. McIntyre, a forensic toxicologist consultant who previously worked for almost 20 years at the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office.

“Often times the manner of death is not obvious even after the autopsy,” McIntyre said.

How is that different from cause of death?

“The cause of death is most often the medical reason why the person died, …or what actually is responsible for the death,” McIntyre said. This is usually quite clear from the autopsy, he said, unlike the manner of death, which often takes more time.

“The manner of death can take a while if the circumstance is not very clear,” Upko said.

While there are only five options for the manner of death, there are many options for the cause of death — often with multiple reasons contributing to a death.

How do forensic pathologists make such a decision?

“Once you determine the cause of death, that’s the first step, then manner of death is the second step,” Ukpo said.

McIntyre said the medical examiner will consider everything available.

“Hospital records, police reports, reports from their own investigators, toxicology, histology reports,” McIntyre said, “and obviously autopsy findings.”

Medical examiners do their own independent investigation to determine the manner of death, but Upko said investigators can also consider police reports or other investigative information.

“Ideally, what we’re supposed to do is independently investigate and look at the body on our own,” Upko said. But, he said “we can gather information from [a law enforcement] investigation as well.”

Cases in which an injury led to a death can make determining the manner of death challenging, the experts said, especially when trying to distinguish between an accident or a homicide.

“You can’t make a determination just from the physical injury,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre and Upko both said a manner-of-death determination can change if new information later becomes available.

Upko said videos can also be relevant to such an investigation, but he called that very rare. He declined to say whether investigators reviewed video in Shaylee’s probe.

How is that determination used?

Both experts said it’s important to understand that the manner of death is a medical determination, not a legal one. So law enforcement and prosecutors can use the medical examiner’s findings in their cases, but that doesn’t determine what happens in the criminal justice system.

“The legal system works differently,” McIntyre said. For example, the manner of death could be ruled a homicide, but it may not be a crime — such as in cases of self defense.

There are also ways an accidental death could result in someone being held criminally responsible or liable in civil court, such as an overdose death in which officials prosecute the drug dealer.



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Barcelona 1-4 Paris St-Germain (Agg: 4-6): Kylian Mbappe scores twice as PSG reach last four

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PSG players celebrate
Paris St-Germain are into their first Champions League semi-final in three years

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris St-Germain thrashed Barcelona to turn around a first-leg deficit and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

PSG had trailed 3-2 after the first leg in France but took advantage of an early Barcelona sending off to secure their place in the last four for the first time since 2021.

Luis Enrique’s side face a semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, who beat Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate in a thrilling encounter in Germany.

The semi-final first leg takes place on 30 April with the second leg on 7 May.

More to follow.

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

Barcelona

  1. Squad number1Player nameter Stegen

  2. Squad number23Player nameKoundé

  3. Squad number4Player nameAraujo

  4. Squad number33Player nameCubarsí

  5. Squad number2Player nameJoão Cancelo

  6. Squad number8Player namePedri

  7. Squad number22Player nameGündogan

  8. Squad number21Player nameF de Jong

  9. Squad number27Player nameYamal

  10. Squad number9Player nameLewandowski

  11. Squad number11Player nameRaphinha

  1. Squad number5Player nameMartínez

  2. Squad number7Player nameF Torres

  3. Squad number14Player nameJoão Félix

  4. Squad number32Player nameLópez

Paris Saint Germain

  1. Squad number99Player nameG Donnarumma

  2. Squad number2Player nameHakimi

  3. Squad number5Player nameMarquinhos

  4. Squad number21Player nameHernández

  5. Squad number25Player nameNuno Mendes

  6. Squad number33Player nameZaïre-Emery

  7. Squad number17Player nameVitinha

  8. Squad number8Player nameRuiz

  9. Squad number10Player nameDembélé

  10. Squad number7Player nameMbappé

  11. Squad number29Player nameBarcola

  1. Squad number4Player nameUgarte

  2. Squad number11Player nameAsensio

  3. Squad number19Player nameLee Kang-in

  4. Squad number23Player nameKolo Muani

Line-ups

Barcelona

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 23Koundé
  • 4AraujoBooked at 29mins
  • 33Cubarsí
  • 2CanceloSubstituted forJoão Félixat 82′minutes
  • 8PedriSubstituted forF Torresat 62′minutes
  • 22GündoganBooked at 64mins
  • 21F de JongSubstituted forLópezat 82′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 27YamalSubstituted forMartínezat 34′minutesBooked at 40mins
  • 9LewandowskiBooked at 50mins
  • 11RaphinhaBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 5Martínez
  • 7F Torres
  • 13Peña Sotorres
  • 14João Félix
  • 17Alonso
  • 18Romeu
  • 19Roque Ferreira
  • 26Astralaga
  • 30Casadó
  • 32López
  • 38Guiu
  • 39Fort

PSG

Formation 4-3-3

  • 99G DonnarummaBooked at 87mins
  • 2Hakimi
  • 5MarquinhosBooked at 62mins
  • 21Hernández
  • 25Nuno Mendes
  • 33Zaïre-EmerySubstituted forUgarteat 80′minutes
  • 17Vitinha
  • 8RuizBooked at 45minsSubstituted forAsensioat 77′minutes
  • 10DembéléSubstituted forKolo Muaniat 88′minutes
  • 7MbappéBooked at 40mins
  • 29BarcolaSubstituted forLee Kang-inat 77′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Navas
  • 4Ugarte
  • 9Gonçalo Ramos
  • 11Asensio
  • 15Danilo
  • 19Lee Kang-in
  • 23Kolo Muani
  • 26Mukiele
  • 28Soler
  • 35Lopes Beraldo
  • 37Skriniar
  • 80Tenas

Referee:
István Kovács

Live Text





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Magnitude 2.8 earthquake reported in View Park-Windsor Hills

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A magnitude 2.8 earthquake was reported Tuesday at 8:19 a.m. Pacific time in Los Angeles’ View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake‘s epicenter was 7.1 miles beneath the intersection of Overland Drive and Northridge Drive, near Windsor Hills Elementary School. .

In the last 10 days, there have been no earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

An average of 59 earthquakes with magnitudes between 2.0 and 3.0 occur per year in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to a recent three-year data sample.

Did you feel this earthquake? Consider reporting what you felt to the USGS.

Are you ready for when the Big One hits? Get ready for the next big earthquake by signing up for our Unshaken newsletter, which breaks down emergency preparedness into bite-sized steps over six weeks. Learn more about earthquake kits, which apps you need, Lucy Jones’ most important advice and more at latimes.com/Unshaken.

This story was automatically generated by Quakebot, a computer application that monitors the latest earthquakes detected by the USGS. A Times editor reviewed the post before it was published. If you’re interested in learning more about the system, visit our list of frequently asked questions.



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Justice Thomas returns to Supreme Court after 1-day absence

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is back on the bench after an unexplained one-day absence.

Thomas, 75, was in his usual seat, to the right of Chief Justice John Roberts as the court met to hear arguments in a case about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Thomas has ignored calls from some progressive groups to step aside from cases involving Jan. 6 because his wife, Ginni, attended then-President Donald Trump‘s rally near the White House before protesters descended on the Capitol. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist, also texted senior Trump administration officials in the weeks after the election offering support and reiterating her belief that there was widespread fraud in the election.

On Monday, Roberts announced Thomas’ absence, without providing an explanation. Justices sometimes miss court, but participate remotely. Thomas did not take part in Monday’s arguments.

He was hospitalized two years ago with an infection, causing him to miss several court sessions. He took part in the cases then, too.

Thomas is the longest serving of the current justices, joining the Supreme Court in 1991.



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