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City Settles Excessive Force Lawsuit

Los Angeles' council also agrees to pay a youth who says he was wrongly arrested.

March 31, 2004|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit by a man who charged that an LAPD officer used excessive force in shooting him during a raid by narcotics investigators at a Gardena hotel.

Leonard Robinson lost a thumb and finger when he was shot once in the hand by a Los Angeles Police Department officer who confronted him in a hotel room while serving a search warrant in 1997, city officials said.

"The person who was shot was lying in bed with a shotgun in bed with him," said Councilman Greig Smith.

Officials said the police officer shot Robinson because he feared for his life.

Robinson was found guilty of possession of cocaine while armed, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge that he assaulted an officer. Robinson then sued the city in federal court in 1998, alleging that officers violated his civil rights by using excessive force.

A jury awarded Robinson $1 million. The city lost an appeal, and a trial judge ruled that Robinson could also sue the officer for false arrest. So the city attorney's office negotiated the $2-million settlement, which includes attorneys fees, according to Eric Moses, a spokesman for the city attorney.

The council also voted Tuesday to pay $440,000 to settle a lawsuit by a teenager who alleged he was falsely arrested by Rafael Perez, the former LAPD officer who became the center of the Rampart corruption scandal after telling authorities he and other officers had routinely planted evidence, framed suspects and covered up their actions.

Sergio Salcido was 16 when arrested by Perez in 1996 for possessing a shotgun. Salcido accepted a plea bargain that involved six months in a juvenile detention facility.

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