The mother of a knife-wielding robbery suspect who was shot 24 times by three Torrance police officers in September has filed a $10 million wrongful-death suit against the city and the officers.
The suit, filed last week in Torrance Superior Court by Joan Leadbeater of Redondo Beach, said the officers, Mark Hein, 24, Henry Fricke, 36, and John Malley, 27, "recklessly and intentionally" fired their guns in "reckless disregard of public safety."
City Atty. Stanley Remelmeyer said the city maintains the position it had when it denied a similar claim in November.
"The officers acted in self-defense," Remelmeyer said. "The fact that they fired more than once in that situation would not nullify that fact. Police officers have to fire enough times to stop a suspect before the suspect gets to them."
Police Chief Donald Nash has said the officers had "no reasonable alternative" to shooting.
Police reports give this account: Bryant John Leadbeater, 32, took car keys from an elderly man in the back parking lot of the Del Amo Fashion Center on Sept. 9. Three uniformed officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress and confronted Leadbeater, who was armed with a knife.
With their weapons drawn, the officers ordered Leadbeater to drop the knife, but he lunged at one of the officers, police said. The officers fired simultaneously, instantly killing Leadbeater.