L.A. County to pay $5.3 million over police shooting of unarmed man

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 08, 2015 5:44 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles County officials have agreed to pay $5.3 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of an unarmed man who was shot to death by sheriff's deputies more than two years ago following a car chase through the suburb of Compton.

The settlement, which was approved by a vote of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, comes amid new nationwide scrutiny of fatal shootings by police officers, especially of young black men.

On Tuesday a South Carolina police officer was charged with murder for shooting an apparently unarmed black man as he fled, the latest death that has brought protesters out to demonstrate against racism and police brutality in the United States.

In the Los Angeles case, family members of Jose de la Trinidad sued the county and sheriff's department over his fatal shooting by deputies shortly after 10 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2012.

According to a summary of the incident released by the Board of Supervisors, two sheriffs deputies pulled over a car being driven by de la Trinidad's brother, Francisco, with de la Trinidad in the passenger seat, after they saw it speeding through Compton.

According to the deputies, after the vehicle stopped they saw de la Trinidad's brother pass him a gun before speeding away from the scene.

When the car stopped again, according to the deputies, de la Trinidad got out and ran toward one of them, his hands in his waistband, prompting them to open fire.

Prosecutors declined to file charges against the deputies involved despite a finding by the Los Angeles County coroner that de la Trinidad was struck by seven bullets, five times in the back.

Enough's Enough
Walter E. Williams

The Los Angeles Times reported that, according to a witness at the scene, de la Trinidad, a father of two, had put his hands on his head to surrender to deputies before they opened fire.

The paper said the shooting was being reinvestigated by the sheriff's department's internal affairs bureau.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Beech)