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2 Jewelry Siege Victims Seek $10 Million

August 13, 1986|From the Associated Press

Damage claims for $10 million were filed Tuesday against Los Angeles County and the City of Beverly Hills on behalf of two surviving victims of a jewelry store siege that left three people dead.

Attorney Harold V. Sullivan II made the claims on behalf of Carol Lambert, 41, and Robert Taylor, 60, as a result of the 13 1/2-hour siege that followed a botched robbery at Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry store on Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive.

Accused of Killing 2

Steven Livaditis, 22, was ordered Monday to stand trial on three counts of murder and 12 other charges in the case.

Livaditis is accused of killing two hostages inside the store. The third hostage, store manager Hugh Skinner, 63, was killed by a sheriff's marksman as the gunman tried to escape, using the hostages as a shield.

At a preliminary hearing Monday, Sheriff's Deputy George Johnson testified he shot Skinner because he had been told that the only white man in the store was the gunman. However, both Skinner and Livaditis are white.

In a brief prepared statement, Sheriff Sherman Block's office declined Tuesday to comment on Johnson's testimony.

"Sheriff Block has been candid in reporting the facts surrounding the Beverly Hills hostage incident," said the statement, read by Deputy Lynda Edmonds.

"Several multimillion-dollar civil suits have been filed against Los Angeles County, and the sheriff will not make any further comments upon advice of legal counsel."

Sullivan filed claims for $5 million each for Lambert and Taylor. The county and Beverly Hills have six months to respond.

Sullivan said he expects the damage claims to be rejected, in which case he intends to file civil suits. Sullivan claimed that the county sheriff and Beverly Hills police were negligent in handling the incident.

Police Error Claimed

He contended that police erred because the first squad car to arrive shortly after a silent alarm went off pulled up in front of the store, and subsequent squad cars arrived with their sirens wailing, alerting the gunman.

He also said Beverly Hills police had little experience in handling hostage situations and "didn't understand the seriousness of the situation." Sheriff's special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officers who were summoned were less experienced than those of the Los Angeles Police Department, Sullivan said.

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