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L.A. City Council to pay out $2.3 million LAPD excessive force lawsuit

City News Service | 10/16/2013, 2:58 p.m.
LAPD

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles City Council today agreed to pay out $2.3 million to settle a 2009 excessive force lawsuit by a partially paralyzed stroke-survivor who said he sustained injuries when a Los Angeles Police Department officer served a search warrant on his home.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury last year awarded then-56-year-old Allen Harris $1.6 million. The city chose to settle to avoid a drawn out appeal battle and attorney fees of more than $1 million, said Harris’ attorney Tony Luti.

Harris’s attorneys accused LAPD officer Alex Tellez of breaking Harris’ collarbone and handcuffing him too tightly, causing nerve damage to his wrist and worsening an existing disability.

According to Harris’ attorneys, Tellez was investigating Harris’ son and had come to their Inglewood apartment with a search warrant. After arresting the son, Tellez told Harris to put both his arms behind his head and walk backwards toward police officers, according to Harris’ attorneys.

Harris raised just one of his arms, telling the officers that his left arm is paralyzed as the result of a stroke, according to the attorneys; but Tellez responded by slamming Harris against the wall,” Harris’s attorney V. James DeSimone said.

Tellez slapped handcuffs onto Harris’s left wrist, dragged him out of the apartment and wrenched both of his arms behind him to be handcuffed, his attorneys said.

“What really became apparent in this case was the lack of training of LAPD officers in encountering individuals with physical disabilities, DeSimone said. “All this could have been avoided with better training, and honestly, some common sense used on the scene.”

DeSimone added that LAPD officers are not properly trained in handcuffing people.

“Officers don’t realize the serious and lasting harm that comes when they place handcuffs on too tightly,” he said.