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City to Pay $1.2 Million to Settle Police, Fire Dept. Cases

March 30, 1994|JAMES RAINEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million to settle three lawsuits that helped change procedures in the Police and Fire departments.

The largest payment, of $730,000, will be made to the mother of a teen-age girl who was killed after police failed to adequately warn her of threats made against her.

Demetria Wallace, 19, was shot to death less than a week before she was to testify in 1983 against the accused killer of a taxi driver. Although the teen-ager's mother had received a threatening phone call, an appellate court found that Los Angeles Police Detective Don Richards had left the family with the impression there was no immediate danger.

The Wallace case and a similar lawsuit led the Police Department to issue a bulletin last year advising officers to properly warn witnesses of potential threats to their safety.

In other action, the council agreed to pay $333,000 to the parents of a Cheviot Hills man who died after paramedics tied his wrists and ankles behind him with a leather strap. The paramedics said they resorted to the restraints because they could not control the man, who reportedly was suffering violent seizures.

The Los Angeles Fire Department now orders that such patients be restrained by a police officer, who must also ride along in the ambulance to monitor the patient. The policy also requires that restrained patients be placed on their sides to help keep their airways clear.

Finally, the council voted to pay $117,000 to the lawyer who represented the family of a man who died in a Police Department chokehold in 1982. The payment was in addition to $1.2 million paid by the city to the relatives of James T. Mincey Jr.

Mincey was the last of several people to die before the LAPD banned neck restraint holds in 1982.

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