A Los Angeles police officer who is expected to be a key witness in the federal civil rights trial stemming from last year's North Hollywood shootout has retired from the department amid a pending internal investigation, the officer's lawyer said Wednesday.
Officer John Futrell retired, in part, to establish a legal defense fund, said attorney Bradley Gage. Futrell has hired Gage to assist the city attorney's office in defending him against the suit filed on behalf of the children of slain bank robber Emil Matasareanu.
"It is very expensive to defend one of these cases," said Gage, whose pay would come from donations to Futrell's defense fund. "There is the potential that his lifelong savings could be wiped out by an adverse judgment."
The suit, filed by Venice attorney Stephen Yagman, contends that police killed Matasareanu by denying him medical treatment in the wake of the bloody Feb. 28, 1997, shootout. An internal police department review, however, concluded that all officers involved acted within policy.