The parents of a 28-year-old man fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy filed a claim Friday against the county.
Attorney Ron Kaye, who is representing the parents, said Oscar Ramirez Jr. was unarmed when he was shot five times by a deputy Oct. 27 in Paramount. Kaye said four of the shots hit Ramirez in the back.
The claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, accuses the deputy of wrongfully engaging in excessive and deadly force against Ramirez, and alleges the deputy denied medical care to him. It also says the shooting has caused Ramirez's parents great emotional distress.
"This is the beginning of legal action and we're seeking justice," Kaye said.
The family said the department has not been forthcoming about the shooting.
Oscar Ramirez Sr., 62, said a pair of detectives visited his home hours after his son had been fatally shot, but he was never told that his son had been involved in a confrontation with deputies or that he had been killed in a police shooting.
Ramirez Sr. said the detectives asked to see his son's belongings and left soon after.
Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the sheriff's Homicide Bureau, which is conducting an internal investigation of the incident, confirmed the visit, but said detectives went to the home the following morning. He did not know whether anyone had visited the father before that morning visit.
Family members say they have grown increasingly frustrated by the lack of information from the department, such as obtaining a copy of the coroner's autopsy report or the name of the deputy involved in the shooting.
The California Supreme Court ruled in May that police agencies generally must tell the public the names of the officers in shooting cases unless there’s evidence that the officers' safety would be jeopardized.
"Answers will not bring Oscar Ramirez back, but it will reasonably explain to these grieving people why this unnecessary death occurred," Kaye said. "They want to know why their beloved son, their beloved brother and their beloved uncle is dead."
At a news conference held near the site of the shooting, Leticia Moreno wiped away tears with a crumpled tissue as she stood near a large photo that showed the bullet hole in her son's head.
"They stole my son from my arms and I want justice," she said. "I've asked myself a thousand times, why did they have to shoot him?"
According to Hernandez, deputies responded to a city park near Rosecrans Avenue and Paramount Boulevard after a 12-year-old student from a nearby school told her mother she saw two men armed with a knife and a handgun.
The mother called the Lakewood sheriff's office and provided a description of the men, which was passed on to other deputies over the radio.
According to Hernandez, one of the deputies saw men who matched the descriptions, but they ran off before the deputy could approached them. One of those men was believed to be Ramirez.
The deputy chased after Ramirez to the railroad tracks that run along the park and Paramount High School. Hernandez said Ramirez kept his right arm behind his back and refused to follow instructions from the deputy.
"At one point he removed his arm from the back in a threatening manner and that’s what caused the deputy to believe he was armed," Hernandez said.
Several students were outside in the high school's sports field when the shooting occurred.
One student told NBC4 that he heard about six gunshots before he looked out from the bleacher to see several deputies.
Hernandez said only one deputy fired his weapon. He said the deputy is assigned to the Lakewood Station, but was working in Paramount for the day.
Friday’s claim against the county comes as law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny over the use of deadly force following the high-profile cases of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland; and 25-year-old Ezell Ford in Los Angeles.
The Ramirez family said the shooting was unjustified and they hope the community will come forward and provide details about what led up to the shooting.
"My brother was a good man, a good person," Kristian Ramirez, 32, said. "He saw the positive things in life and showed us that small things mattered -- birthday cards, a hug.
"We want closure and peace."
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