L.A. County agrees to pay $8.85 million in shooting by deputies

Los Angeles County supervisors agreed to pay $8.85 million to the family of Alfredo Montalvo, an unarmed motorist shot and killed by sheriff's deputies after a brief pursuit in 2009.

The payout is the largest in at least a decade for the county in an officer-involved shooting, county records show.

Deputies in an unmarked car began tailing the 29-year old father of two on suspicion of drunk driving after he rolled over a curb while leaving a Circle K in Lynwood. Montalvo didn't pull over and the tail turned into a pursuit, with multiple marked sheriff's vehicles joining. The chase ended when Montalvo crashed into two parked cars, wedging his own car between them.

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The family's attorney, John C. Taylor, said Montalvo, who was not drunk according to the toxicology report, reversed so he could open his door and comply with the deputies' orders to get out of the car. Deputies said Montalvo gunned the engine violently and repeatedly, ramming into one of about 10 law enforcement vehicles that had him surrounded. The deputies, who had their guns drawn, fired 61 times.

Former Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley cleared the deputies of criminal responsibility in 2009, saying they fired in self-defense.

In 2012, a civil jury determined the deputies used unreasonable force, awarding Montalvo's wife and two children $8.76 million.  

That amount, plus attorney's fees, has been earning interest while the county appealed the jury verdict.  If the county lost the appeal they would have owed the family more than $11 million.

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On Tuesday, the county supervisors voted unanimously to approve the $8.85-million settlement without public discussion. County officials noted most of the settlement would be paid by insurance.

While Tuesday's settlement is the largest of its kind for the county in recent memory, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay $15 million to settle a police shooting lawsuit in August. In that case, the officer shot and paralyzed a 13-year-old boy who was holding a replica gun. 

"It's bittersweet," said Montalvo's widow, Annette Montalvo, after learning the county supervisors had agreed to settle the case. "No matter what they gave me, it's never going to bring him back."  

Times staff writer Abby Sewell contributed to this report.

jack.dolan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jackdolanLAT

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