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Body camera footage released in police shooting of woman who called 911 for alleged domestic incident

Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released body camera footage on Friday of a deputy-involved shooting of a 27-year-old woman after they entered her home responding to a domestic violence call that she made.

Niani Finlayson was allegedly shot and killed in her home in Lancaster, California, after an officer fired four shots at her on Dec. 4, the LASD said. She called the police because she claimed that her boyfriend would not leave her alone, according to an LASD statement.

“It’s so unfair that we have to live our lives without Niani Finlayson,” Tracie Hall, Finlayson’s mother, told ABC News. “That was my best friend. I’m going to miss her so much. I miss her already.”

In the 911 call made by Finlayson for police to assist her, audio of which was released by LASD, Finlayson can be heard yelling for someone to get their hands off of her. She told the dispatcher she needed assistance getting a man out of her home.

Hall told ABC News that Finlayson’s daughter informed her that the estranged boyfriend choked Finlayson and would not get off her after she repeatedly demanded for him to. When Finlayson’s daughter tried to help her mother, the man grabbed the 9-year-old and forcefully threw her against a nearby dresser, according to Hall.

Three deputies arrived on the scene. In the body camera footage, yelling could be heard coming from inside of the apartment. After police tried to kick the door down, Finlayson answered the door and appeared to have a knife in one hand, according to the body camera footage.

In the body camera video Finlayson said, “I’m going to stab him.” Finlayson then disappeared off camera as she left the doorway and went back into her home. At this point, deputies had their guns drawn.

Deputies followed Finlayson into the home where she proceeded to yell at, who Hall says is, her ex-boyfriend to leave. Finlayson’s daughter could also be seen on camera saying, “He pushed me” or “He punched me.”

Finlayson then grabbed the alleged estranged boyfriend with one hand, as the knife was in her other hand. Deputy Ty Shelton then fired at Finlayson four times causing her to drop to the ground.

“No, no,” the alleged ex-boyfriend yelled at police after the shooting. “Why did you shoot?” Finlayson’s daughter also witnessed the shooting.

“We’re trying to, as a family, make her [Finlayson’s daughter] not feel guilty for helping her mother,” Hall said. “She was in no wrong. She did nothing wrong. And I want her to know that. I can’t express that enough to her.”

Deputies performed first aid until paramedics arrived and transported Finlayson to the hospital where she was later pronounced deceased, according to a statement from LASD.

After the shooting, the alleged ex-boyfriend became resistant to police and was arrested for child abuse and assault on a peace officer, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department. He was later released from custody pending further investigation.

Neither the police department nor Hall’s attorney, Bradley Gage, confirmed the identity of the ex-boyfriend to ABC News.

On Dec. 21, a claim was filed in court from Finlayson’s family asking for at least $30 million from LASD and Los Angeles County for the killing of Finlayson by an LASD deputy, according to Gage.

“The deputy involved in the shooting has been removed from the field pending the outcome of the Department’s critical incident review,” LASD said in a statement. “The Department will examine and evaluate every aspect of the shooting including the response, tactics, and background of the employee.”

The investigation will include a multi-level review process involving the Office of Inspector General, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Justice System Integrity Division, according to a statement from LASD.

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