Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Was LAPD Detective In A Cat Fight For her Life?
Los Angeles, CA—Slowly the facts are beginning to emerge in the death investigation of Sherri Rasmussen. Rasmussen was found beaten and shot to death in her Van Nuys townhouse she shared with her new husband in 1986.
Now some 23 years later a well-respected 25 year veteran policewoman, Stephanie Lazarus is being held without bond on a capital murder charge.
Police say that there was a deadly fight that included a bite mark containing the salvia of Stephanie Lazarus on the dead woman Sherri Rasmussen’s arm. We all know women resort to scratching and biting when they fight. I see nothing unusual here.
Lazarus was a sworn officer at the time and was required to carry a firearm. We are learning that Lazarus was a frequent visitor/invitee in the townhouse. Lazarus was reportedly a “former” girlfriend of the dead woman’s new husband.
I can see the potential for friction here but these kinds of cases rarely turn so violent. Lazarus has no history of violence or other criminality.
Lazarus at 5’7” was smaller and weaker than the athletic 6’ tall Rasmussen. Assuming there was a fight between the women an effort to disarm Lazarus by Rasmussen makes perfect sense. Had that occurred Lazarus’ police survival training would kick in and she’s lawfully use deadly force shooting Rasmussen until she was no longer a threat.
Lazarus had no duty under her Fifth Amendment rights to report this horrific event to anyone.
This scenario makes perfect sense. It makes more sense than a prosecution theory that Lazarus forced her way into her romantic rival’s home and simply executed her.
The most important clue I’d be looking for is evidence that when shots were fired the distance between the women was very close. That’s really easy to show.
The key element here may be people coming forward that can shed light on Rasmussen’s physical strength, temper and history of violence.
There is a lot more to be learned about this tragic case.