The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to pay $1.7 million to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 1999 police shooting in which an officer allegedly fired at an unarmed teenager and then planted a gun to justify his actions.
Lawyers for the city sought to settle the civil rights case after two officers involved in the shooting invoked their constitutional rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify under oath.
The shooting occurred Feb. 8, 1999, in the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division. According to police, Officers William Ferguson and Jeffrey Robb were conducting a routine narcotics investigation at a known crack house when Frank Harris, 14, pointed a gun at Ferguson, who allegedly fired in self-defense but did not hit the youth.
Harris and others in the house that night said that the teenager was unarmed and that police planted a gun in a bedroom, then later claimed the weapon belonged to the youth. The plaintiffs also alleged that Ferguson and Robb planted drugs on two other teenagers in the house a week later and falsely arrested them.
The settlement money will be divided among nine plaintiffs who alleged that they were victimized by Ferguson and Robb, attorney Ellen Ellison said.
"I think it's going to be a really nice Christmas for these folks who have lived through some bad times with the police," she said.
Ferguson and Robb, who were trained in the scandal-plagued Rampart Division, were known on the streets of Southeast as "Batman and Robin."
Robb resigned from the department last year amid unrelated misconduct charges. Ferguson has been assigned to home pending the outcome of an LAPD disciplinary hearing related to the Harris incident and other misconduct.
The Harris shooting was found to be "in policy" by the Los Angeles Police Commission last year. But the commission asked the LAPD's inspector general to reevaluate the case after an article in The Times disclosed that key information, including the fact that Ferguson was the subject of an active criminal investigation, was withheld from the civilian panel when it voted on the shooting.
The case remains under investigation by the district attorney's office as well.
Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.