The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week agreed to pay $1.6 million to the widow of an 80-year-old man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in Littlerock after serving a narcotics-related search warrant.
Tonya Pate, 50, filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department, then-Sheriff Lee Baca and several deputies, alleging that the June 2013 shooting of Eugene Mallory was unlawful. The complaint said that a deputy obtained false information from a secret informant who had a “personal vendetta” against Mallory. Deputy Patrick Hobbs then allegedly lied to a judge in order to secure a warrant, saying that he smelled chemicals and believed that methamphetamine was being cooked on the property, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys.
The lawsuit alleged that deputies burst into the home without announcing themselves and found Mallory, a retired electrical engineer, asleep in bed, where they shot him although he posed no threat. Deputies denied that Mallory was in bed when he was shot.
“The truth of the matter is a gentleman pointed a semi-automatic weapon at our deputies,” said a Sheriff’s Department spokesman at the time the suit was filed. Attorneys for Mallory’s widow alleged the shooting was “encouraged by an atmosphere of lawlessness within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department” which they claimed was negligent in hiring and training deputies and deliberately indifferent to the civil rights of victims.
Pate’s attorneys said no trace of meth-related chemicals were found in the home, but the Sheriff’s Department alleged a marijuana-growing operation was discovered on the property. The lawsuit also stated that the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office cremated and disposed of Mallory’s body at the request of out-of-state relatives, but without the consent of his widow.
County attorneys recommended the settlement, citing the risks of uncertain of litigation.