The family of two unarmed brothers shot to death in their driveway three years ago by a Compton police officer answering a domestic dispute call will receive $4 million to $6 million under a settlement reached Monday with the city of Compton.
Charles Evans, Compton's risk manager, said the settlement will be disbursed in a combination of cash payments and annuities. Evans estimated the total payout at $4 million to $5 million, according to the Associated Press. Jerry Steering, a lawyer for the victims' family, put the figure at about $6 million.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 28, 1994 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 3 inches; 104 words Type of Material: Correction
Compton settlement--A story in Tuesday's editions incorrectly said the family of two unarmed brothers, shot to death in their driveway three years ago by a Compton police officer, will receive $4 million to $6 million under a settlement with the city. In fact, Compton has tentatively agreed to make a cash payment of $2.1 million to settle the lawsuit. In addition, six children of one of the men are expected to receive the proceeds from the investment of part of the money. A lawyer for the victims' family contends that those payments, made over several decades, could amount to a total payout of up to $6 million. However, the city's risk management expert says it is impossible to determine the amount of money that the investments will return.
The settlement was reached one day before a civil trial was scheduled to start in federal court in Downtown Los Angeles, Steering said.
Pouvi Tualaulelei, 34, and his brother, Italia, 22, together were shot 19 times by Officer Alfred Skiles Jr., who contended that he acted in self-defense after the men attacked him Feb. 12, 1991. Eight of the bullets struck Pouvi Tualaulelei in the back and five shots entered Italia Tualaulelei through his back.
The suit named Skiles and the city of Compton as defendants. George Franscell, who represented Skiles in the civil case and a criminal case, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Skip Campbell, the lawyer who represented the city.
The immediate survivors of the Tualaulelei brothers--their mother, Annie; and the wife and six children of Pouvi Tualaulelei--originally sought $100 million in the case.
Steering said the family was satisfied with the settlement.
"That's a lot of money," he said. The amount, he added, was the first and only offer made.
The money is to be paid out in lump sums and annuity installments, Steering said. He said he expected the city to pay Skiles' portion.
The settlement brings to a close a case that had galvanized Southern California's Samoan community and prompted the concern of Western Samoan officials stationed in Washington, D.C., and on the Pacific island nation.
The Tualauleleis had migrated from Western Samoa, where Pouvi worked as a police officer.
Samoan American activists, who labeled the incident a blatant instance of excessive use of force by an officer, staged several protests. Police overreaction is common when officers deal with Samoans, the activists said, because they mistakenly believe the Samoan culture is violent.
Pouvi Tualaulelei's wife, Julie, told authorities that Skiles--patrolling alone--appeared outside the family home the night of the shooting after she called police and told them her husband had struck her.
Skiles, she said, locked her in his patrol car and approached the brothers, who were standing in their driveway. An argument ensued and, Julie Tualaulelei said, she heard a barrage of gunfire.
A third Tualaulelei brother, who was inside the family's home, said he heard Skiles order his brothers to their knees before the shooting started.
At Skiles' criminal trial, the prosecution contended that after he felled the Tualaulelei brothers with nine shots, Skiles coolly reloaded his firearm and shot them at least 10 more times.
However, a jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquitting Skiles of voluntary manslaughter. By then, he had retired from the force. A judge later blocked an attempt by prosecutors to have Skiles retried.
Times correspondent Emily Adams contributed to this story.