Unarmed man shot by CHP officer receives $2.5-million settlement

State agrees to pay man $2.5 million in excessive-force lawsuit against CHP

The state of California has agreed to a $2.5-million settlement in a federal excessive-force lawsuit involving an unarmed man who was shot repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer in Sunnyvale.

In the first day of the trial Tuesday, the attorney general’s office agreed to the settlement with the plaintiff, James Ligon, who was shot during a traffic stop in June 2012.

According to the lawsuit, two CHP officers tried to stop Ligon while he was driving on Highway 101 in Palo Alto. Less than a mile away from home, Ligon led the officers to his driveway, where he got out with his hands up, the lawsuit states.

With his hands raised, the suit states, Ligon “indicated to the officers that he did not have any weapons” before being shot by officer Joe Lafuaci.

Lafuaci “emptied his clip” on Ligon, who was shot about seven times in the front and four times in the back as he fell to the ground, according to the lawsuit.

Before the shooting, Ligon worked as a carpenter, his attorney Nelson McElmurry said. He’s lost most of the use of his right hand and has to learn how to do everything with his left, McElmurry said. The $2.5 million is compensation for Ligon’s medical expenses and pain and suffering, McElmurry said.

The state did not have to admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement and the attorney general’s office declined to comment. The California Highway Patrol confirmed the settlement but declined to comment further.

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