LA Supervisors Approve $47.6 Million In Settlement For Alleged Excessive Force of Sheriff’s Deputies

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (November 2, 2022) – The LA County Board of Supervisors has voted to approve a total of $47.6 million in payments to settle four lawsuits that claimed sheriff’s deputies used excessive force. 

The incidents left a total of four men dead and one paralyzed. Two of the incidents involved cases where officers dealt with people who were in the midst of a mental health crisis.

One of the men died after he was beaten and tasered by officers. The man who was paralyzed was shot in the back by officers. In both cases, deputies used force while they were inside the bedrooms of the suspects. 

In another case, an innocent bystander was shot and killed during a shootout with police officers. The county’s Litigation Cost Manager Adrienne Byers issued the following statement: “Given the high risks and uncertainties of litigation, a reasonable settlement at this time will avoid further litigation costs.”

What follows is a breakdown of each of the settlements totaling $47.6 million. 

Timothy Neal — $16.5 million 

Timothy Neal was the person paralyzed by officers after he was shot in the back on July 26, 2019. 

Eric Esteban Briceno — $16.25 million

Eric Esteban Briceno died following a struggle with four officers on March 16, 2020. The lawsuit stated that Briceno was beaten and tasered by officers shortly after he was found sleeping in his own bed. 

Andres Guardado — $8 million

Andres Guardado was an 18-year-old security guard for an auto body shop when he was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy on June 19, 2020. He was pursued by an officer before being shot five times in the back.

Pedro Lopez — $5 million

Pedro Lopez died after he was shot by sheriff’s deputies on Feb. 17, 2022. He was inside of his home when he was hit by an officer’s bullet engaged in a shootout with a carjacking suspect. 

Rufino Paredes — $1.9 million

The Carrillo Law Firm represented some of the family of Rufino Paredes who died after he was taken in to custody. He was denied proper medical care before his death. He is survived by his mother and five minor children. 

Liability For Los Angeles County Police Excessive Force Cases

According to one report from the Washington Post, around 1,000 people are killed in police shootings every year. People who are struggling with their mental health are far more likely to be seriously injured or killed by police officers. The Treatment Advocacy Center has estimated that people with an untreated mental illness were 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than members of the general population. There are a number of steps that police officers should take in order to help reduce fatal encounters with suspects. 

  • Officers should receive plenty of crisis intervention training. 
  • Officers should learn how to recognize when a suspect is experiencing a mental health crisis. 
  • Officers should know how to de-escalate situations to the best of their ability. 

Despite the growing need for well-trained officers, there are far too many officers on the street who are ill prepared to deal with suspects in the middle of a mental health crises. In many situations, a police officer’s first instinct is to use lethal force – even when it may not be necessary. Pursuant to California Penal Code 835a. (1), all people in California have a right to be free from excessive force conducted under the color of law. Lethal force must only be used when it is reasonably necessary in the defense of a human life.

If a police officer uses excessive force, the police department that they worked for could be held vicariously liable for their actions. Consider, for example, the case of Tabares v. City of Huntington Beach (9th Cir., Feb. 17, 2021, No. 19-56035) 2021 WL 609854. Mr. Tabares was struggling with mental health issues before he was shot by a police officer after a short encounter. In that case, the court held that the police officer who shot Mr. Tabares failed to follow police protocols for dealing with a mentally ill suspect. There are many different steps that should be taken after any suspected instance of excessive force. 

  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be reviewed. 
  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Medical records should be preserved. 
  • An autopsy may need to be performed. 
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be consulted. 

It can be difficult to know where to begin after any instance of excessive force involving police officers. But it is important to remember that victims do have rights. Any person that is injured by officers has the ability to file a civil claim for damages. This is also true for anyone that loses a loved one due to the negligent actions of officers. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.

Liability For Los Angeles County Excessive Force Cases

We at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP commend the actions of the LA County Board of Supervisors to bring these lawsuits to a close. The victims and their family members have already been through so much. While no settlement can ever replace the loss of a loved one, it is our sincere hope that these settlements will prompt city officials to better train their officers and take other measures to prevent similar tragedies.

Have you or someone that you care about been harmed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that victims are aware of their rights and that police departments are held to account for their actions. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident, we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at  626-799-9375. Se habla español.

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