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Defense Verdict in Wrongful Death Case Arising Out of Officer Involved Shooting

December 31, 2015

We obtained a defense verdict where we represented a public entity and two officers in a wrongful death action arising out of a deputy-involved shooting in East Los Angeles.  In addition to claiming that the shooting was unjustified under the circumstances, the plaintiff also alleged that an air-soft gun was planted at the scene by some unknown persons, presumably from the Sheriff’s Department.  Following a lengthy procedural history, which included an appeal of an order granting summary judgment in defendants’ favor, the matter proceeded to a jury trial on plaintiff’s remaining battery claim.  At trial, defendants discredited the plaintiff’s planted gun theory, presented evidence establishing that neither deputy involved in the incident used unreasonable force against the decedent and that their actions were in accordance with applicable police training standards and policies.  Furthermore, defendants utilized the expert testimony of a crime scene reconstruction expert whose analysis of the forensic evidence was consistent with the deputies’ observations of the decedent’s threatening body movements on the night of the incident.  After less than a half hour of deliberation, the jury returned with an unanimous verdict in favor of defendants.