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Did Tyisha Miller Have To Die?

In Riverside, California, five police officers, four whites and one Hispanic, have been placed on administrative leave in a shooting that has outraged the city's black community.

Relatives call what happened nothing less than murder - the death of a teenage girl inside her car in a hail of bullets. CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone has the story:

The number of bullet casings on the ground around Tyisha Miller's car show something terrible happened; but exactly what is murky,

Early Monday morning, the 19 year old called her family to say she had a flat tire. But when her cousin arrived to help, Miller was lying on the front seat either asleep or unconscious. Inside the locked car she had a handgun in her lap. The radio and heater were turned up full.

"She had the music up, like most 19 year olds, listening to loud music," said the cousin, Bernell Butler.


Butler called 911 for an ambulance. Instead, several police cars showed up. Officers rapped on the window to wake Miller, but suddenly, they fired as many as two dozen shots.

Originally, police said Miller grabbed the gun and fired at police as they tried to break the car window.

"When the window was broken, there is an appearance that she reacted in a very violent manner," said Sgt. Chris Manning.

The next day, however, police told a different story:

"There was some question of whether the gun had actually been fired," Manning said.

The woman's family says police murdered Tyisha.

"They were responding to a 911 call. Good God, this is scary," said Butler.

Tyisha Butler was black. Her death further frayed race relations that have already been strained in Riverside. Earlier this year, a group of white parents argued against naming a new high school after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

With calls now for demonstrations against the police, Don Bardo of the Urban League is asking for calm.

"Let's not do anything irrational. We don't need any more shooting. We don't need any more killing," he said.

At the gas station where Tyisha Miller was shot, flowers are piling up. So are the questions.

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