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Family's Suit Blames Police in Van Nuys Man's Death : Courts: The $5-million action alleges that officers failed to help victim after he had been shot.

September 24, 1992|JULIE TAMAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Van Nuys family alleged in a civil rights lawsuit this week that Los Angeles police officers watched without interfering when a gunman shot their son outside a North Hills restaurant, then arrested the victim as he lay wounded--blocking medical treatment so that he bled to death.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the city, former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, the Los Angeles Police Department and McDonald's restaurants seeks $5 million in punitive damages, said Gary Faulkes, an attorney for the family.

Police and city officials and McDonald's representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. At the time of the incident, police said it appeared to be a gang shooting.

Faulkes is representing plaintiffs in three different shootings at the same McDonald's, two of which ended in death. Two of the victims were brothers.

The suit filed Tuesday was on behalf of the family of Ramon Carmona, 21, of Van Nuys, who was leaving the McDonald's at 8320 Sepulveda Blvd. when he was shot in the chest by an unknown assailant Nov. 6, Faulkes said.

The suit alleges that at least three undercover officers had the gunman under surveillance but did nothing to stop him from shooting Carmona.

"Rather than deter the criminal activity while it was in the process, they waited until the violence had been completed before they did anything," Faulkes said.

The suit alleges that the officers violated Carmona's civil rights by unlawfully arresting him after he had been shot, ignoring his pleas for medical attention and refusing to call an ambulance.

Instead, the officers dragged Carmona from the car of a friend who tried to drive him to a hospital and detained Carmona for about 40 minutes on the pavement, Faulkes said. An ambulance was eventually called by a neighbor who witnessed the event, Faulkes said, but Carmona "had lost so much blood that by the time he got to the hospital he was dead."

Faulkes said he has been unable to obtain the names of the police officers involved or get a copy of the police report on the shooting.

At the time of the shooting, police said Carmona was standing with friends at Sepulveda and Roscoe boulevards when a Mercury Cougar pulled up and one of its occupants fired into the crowd and struck Carmona. Police identified Carmona as a gang member, saying his assailant was believed to be a rival gang member.

It was not known whether any arrests were ever made in the killing.

The Carmona family's lawsuit accuses McDonald's and E & Z Market of negligently maintaining and managing the lot where the shooting took place. McDonald's is also accused of failing to provide adequate security for patrons and for not warning them of potential dangers.

The lawsuit was filed by Carmona's parents, Augusto and Angeles Carmona, and by his three sisters, Maria, Carmen and Dora, Faulkes said.

Faulkes said he plans to employ some of the same arguments used by attorney Stephen Yagman, who was successful in a civil rights lawsuit against the Police Department on behalf of the families of three robbers killed by the department's Special Investigations Section.

Yagman argued that the 19-member surveillance unit followed suspects and did not prevent them from committing some crimes, waiting to make an arrest after the suspects committed even more serious offenses.

"Certainly, if you can extend the argument to the robber himself, you can extend it to the victim," Faulkes said.

A Police Department spokesman said he could not say whether the officers in the Carmona shooting were also SIS members, because the case is under litigation.

Faulkes said he is also representing the family of Javier Luna, 18, who was fatally shot two days after the Carmona shooting at the same McDonald's.

Faulkes said he plans to file a $1-million suit this week and that McDonald's and E & Z Market will be named as defendants for allegedly failing to provide adequate security.

The same McDonald's was also named as the sole defendant in a $250,000 lawsuit filed last week by Javier's brother, Hector Luna, who was shot in the leg Sept. 14 while dining at the restaurant, said Faulkes, who is also representing Hector Luna.

McDonald's officials declined to comment on either case Wednesday.

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