A North Hollywood woman told a federal jury Friday that no one provided medical assistance or even basic first aid to bank robbery suspect Emil Matasareanu during the hour she watched the "heavily" bleeding, handcuffed gunman die face-down in the street in front of her house.
Dora Julia Lubensky, 69, recalled the violent events of Feb. 28, 1997 as a witness in a federal civil rights suit filed on behalf of Matasareanu's sons, Emil Jr., 8, and Alexander, 4. The suit accuses the city of Los Angeles, a detective and a patrol officer, both now retired, of denying Matasareanu proper medical care, instead letting him bleed to death from 29 wounds he received in a gun battle with police after the failed robbery.
Lubensky testified that after Matasareanu went down, she saw two uniformed police officers kick him. Later she saw several officers standing "casually" around the fallen gunman, she said, adding that two other officers tried to talk to him.
She said Matasareanu was "bleeding heavily," shouting obscenities and moving his legs. She also heard him shout, "Help me," on three occasions, she testified.
Matasareanu "kept moving," she said. "He looked uncomfortable. He was moving his legs, and an officer tapped him, kicked him. And then he said, 'Help me,' " she testified.
"He was bleeding heavily, and nobody was giving him any attention," Lubensky told the jury. Blood ran from beneath his body to the curb, she added. Meanwhile, the police officers guarding the gunman "were walking around casually, talking to each other." One, she said, stood with his hands on his hips.
Lubensky said that she offered a can of 7-Up to a frightened man who had been caught in the middle of the shootout but was not injured. As the man, whom she knew only as "Mr. Hernandez," took refuge at her home, they talked in Spanish.
"Mr. Hernandez said, 'Is he still alive?' And I said, 'Yes,' " Lubensky recalled. "Mr. Hernandez said, 'Why don't they give him help? I don't understand why they won't help him.' "
Under cross-examination, Lubensky said she was unable to identify any of the police officers because "they all look alike to me."
She testified that she had called 911, saying that a man was bleeding to death on her front porch. But the call was for William Marr, who had been driving a Jeep that Matasareanu allegedly tried to carjack. An ambulance came for Marr, who Lubensky said was "gushing blood" from a head wound. He was taken to a hospital, where his wounds proved to be relatively minor.
At that time, she said, the gunman in the street was very much alive, but no ambulance came for him. He stopped moving about 45 minutes later.
Earlier Friday, Dr. Marshall Morgan, medical director of the emergency center at UCLA, testified that Matasareanu could have survived had he received prompt medical care.
Morgan said he based his opinion on autopsy reports faxed to him by a Los Angeles Times reporter in April 1997. He acknowledged that he had no expertise in police crime scene procedures and couldn't say whether the officers had acted correctly.
Still, Matasareanu could have benefited on the scene from pressure applied to the most serious gunshot wound, in his left thigh, and fluids administered intravenously, Morgan said.
Morgan said that in Los Angeles, paramedics normally respond within seven minutes. Matasareanu could have been in a hospital emergency room within 15 minutes, he said.