LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today agreed to settle three unrelated lawsuits–a fatal officer-involved shooting and two incidents of alleged excessive force by sheriff’s deputies–for a total of $1.9 million.
A $900,000 settlement was approved in the Sept. 14, 2009 fatal shooting of 36-year-old Darrick Collins.
Collins and another man were standing in the driveway of 1234 Poindexter St. in the unincorporated Athens area and were spotted by sheriff’s deputies searching for two suspects in an armed robbery.
According to a sheriff’s department account, as the deputies exited their patrol car, Collins reached for his waistband and then ran. One deputy followed.
After opening a wooden gate to his backyard, Collins turned toward the deputy, who said he thought he saw a handgun in Collins’ right hand. The deputy fired three rounds. All three struck Collins, who died at the scene.
A weapon was not found. In news reports at the time, Collins’ mother accused the deputy of shooting her son in the back. His two minor children sued the county, alleging inadequate training of sheriff’s deputies and the misuse of deadly force.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s administrative review revealed employee misconduct,” according to documentation provided by county attorneys. “As a result, appropriate administrative action was taken.”
The documents did not provide further details and at the time of the shooting Sheriff Lee Baca declined to provide the name of the deputy involved.
In an unrelated lawsuit, Kerry Kae Robinson alleged that she was arrested on March 11, 2009 by deputies without probable cause and the victim of excessive force. Her claim was approved for settlement in the amount of $600,000.
A deputy sheriff patrolling an area plagued by vandalism saw Robinson sitting in a parked vehicle with another person.
Robinson and the deputy ended up in a physical confrontation and Robinson hit the deputy several times in the face, according to a report provided by the sheriff’s department. When Robinson was taken to a Pasadena hospital, medical staff found she had an orbital fracture.
Though the Sheriff’s Department’s Executive Force Review Committee concluded that the level of physical force used was “reasonable, necessary and in compliance with department policy,” lawyers advised the settlement given the risks of trial.
In a third, unrelated case, Jaime Zurita sued the county alleging false arrest, assault and battery by sheriff’s deputies.
Deputies responding to a report of cockfighting and illegal drug use on February 28, 2009 detained several people and got into a “violent altercation” with Zurita before they were able to subdue and handcuff him.
Zurita was treated for injuries to his head, face and neck at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.
Though the Sheriff’s Department’s Executive Force Review Committee again concluded that the level of physical force used was reasonable, lawyers citing the uncertainty of trial advised a $400,000 settlement.