LA County to pay $5M in fatal shooting by sheriff's deputies

AP News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2015 2:07 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County will pay $5.3 million to the family of an unarmed man who was fatally shot in the back by sheriff's deputies following a car chase more than two years ago.

County supervisors agreed Tuesday to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by relatives of Jose de la Trinidad, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1CmgHpc ).

The 36-year-old was shot seven times from behind on the night of Nov. 10, 2012.

The father of two was in a car driven by his brother, Francisco, and the pair had just left a family party when deputies tried to pull it over for speeding.

When the car abruptly stopped, Jose got out and Francisco drove away again.

Deputies told investigators that they had seen the driver pass a handgun to the passenger before the chase began. Then when the passenger got out he crouched down and reached for his waistband, prompting them to shoot, they said.

But a woman who witnessed the shooting from a window of her home across the street said De la Trinidad had put his hands on his head, in compliance with deputies' orders, when they opened fire.

No gun was found. De la Trinidad died at the scene.

A district attorney's investigation found in 2014 that the deputies "acted in lawful self-defense and defense of another when they used deadly force."

On Tuesday, Arnoldo Casillas, attorney for Rosie de la Trinidad, Jose's widow, said he was outraged by the decision not to prosecute the two deputies.

"It's absolutely shameful ... a black eye for the D.A.'s office," Casillas said. He called the supervisors' settlement "a hollow victory."

The Times said the settlement came on a day when an estimated 300 demonstrators rallied outside the county Hall of Administration. They carried tombstone-shaped signs, each bearing the name of one of the 617 people they said have died in officer-involved shootings in the county since 2000.

Among the demonstrators were Rosie de la Trinidad and her two daughters with Jose.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/