The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a $5 million settlement with the family of a National Guard veteran who officers fatally shot at the end of a wild pursuit last year in downtown Los Angeles.
The settlement comes in the case of Brian Newt Beaird, 51, whose chase last December was broadcast live on television and received national attention.
Several days after the shooting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he was "very concerned" about the incident and said he was launching investigations to determine whether it required discipline against the officers or better training techniques.
Officials have not said whether those investigations have been completed.
The incident began around 9:30 p.m. as a suspected drunk- or reckless-driver pursuit in Cudahy by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The LAPD took over the chase when it reached city limits. Beaird was driving erratically and at high rates of speed on freeways and surface streets.
With several LAPD cars following his Corvette, Beaird crashed into a Nissan crossing the intersection at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street, sending the passing car into a fire hydrant.
Beaird’s mangled Corvette spun to a rest on the street corner. He tried to pull away, then got out of the vehicle, staggering around to the sidewalk on the passenger side.
He was surrounded by officers with patrol cars from the Newton Division when the gunfire rang out. He died less than an hour later at California Hospital Medical Center, authorities said.
Beaird's family filed a claim against the city for $20 million. His father said he watched the chase live on television, including the moment when his son was killed.
Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino voted against the settlement in closed session, saying the officers acted within the law and the city stood a good chance of winning in court.
Englander noted the long police pursuit, in car and on foot.
“Given the totality of the circumstances, the officers' actions were reasonable and it was reasonable to believe he had a weapon,” Englander said.
While acknowledging that the shooting was "very unfortunate," Buscaino also pointed to the nearly hourlong pursuit, and cited his experience as an officer in voting against the settlement.
“I felt that we could have challenged and fought the case, and in light of my experience as a police officer working 15 years on the street, looking at the totality of the incident, almost an hourlong pursuit involving three agencies … in summary, I felt that we had an opportunity to challenge this in court and ultimately win it based on what I heard in closed session," he said.
Beaird served in the National Guard for several years. He was discharged in 1988 after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor, his father said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
1:44 p.m.: This story was updated to include comments from Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino.