LOS ANGELES (AP) — A father who saw his son fatally shot by Los Angeles police on live television filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the city Thursday.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of parents Billy Beaird and Christal Benjamin alleges that officers violated the Constitution and state law when they fatally shot Brian Beaird, 51, who was unarmed.
The Dec. 13 shooting followed a nearly hour-long nighttime pursuit for allegedly reckless driving that ended when the Corvette hit a car in an intersection, seriously injuring the other driver, and then spun onto a downtown sidewalk.
Beaird's father watched live as his son, a disabled veteran, staggered out of the Corvette, briefly raised his hands, was fatally shot multiple times in the front and back, and fell to the ground.
The lawsuit alleges that officers were inadequately trained, used excessive force and committed battery and negligence. It states that the shooting is the "fruit of the LAPD's longstanding unconstitutional customs and practices with respect to the use of deadly force" and criticized the department for a rising number of police shootings recently with little consequence for most officers.
"This has contributed to a culture of impunity, subject to which officers believe that they can open fire without consequences," it states.
Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement in December that he was "very concerned" after reading a preliminary report on the shooting. Beck has placed three officers on leave until the investigation ends, when they may receive discipline or further training.
Attorney Dale Galipo, who is representing Beaird's parents, said the shooting is indicative of a larger problem nationally that needs to be addressed. Galipo said there have been more than 10,000 police shootings in Los Angeles County over the last 30 years but "not one criminal prosecution of a police officer for a shooting. And that is why many members of the public think the system is unfair."
He added: "If anyone other than a police officer had done that shooting (of Beaird) that would be first-degree murder. They would be in jail without bail."
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams