A man who was punched in the face by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in a Maywood parking lot was awarded $900,000 by a federal jury on Thursday.
Eduardo Cervantes was sitting in his car outside a billiards hall playing with his new cell phone when two sheriff’s deputies approached him around noon on Nov. 23, 2010.
According to Cervantes’ civil complaint, Deputy Paul Cruz ordered him to get out of the car and became angry when Cervantes asked what the reason was.
Cervantes, who wears a prosthesis on his right leg, said he complied with commands to face his vehicle and put his hands behind him. But at that point, he said, Cruz’s partner, Deputy Victor Cisneros, punched him, and both deputies then knocked him backward.
The deputies claimed they were trying to cite Cervantes for having tinted windows on his car when Cervantes began to struggle with them -- threatening to spit on them -- and that he struck his head on the pavement when he fell, according to the complaint.
Cervantes was charged with resisting arrest, but the charge was later dropped.
Cervantes, who formerly worked as a bounty hunter, suffered headaches for several years and still has floaters in his eye from the incident, said one of his attorneys, Kevin Conlogue.
“He got beat up by some bad cops, and he finally got some vindication,” Conlogue said.
The jury decided that Cisneros, but not Cruz, used unreasonable force and that Cervantes’ arrest was unjustified.
The $900,000 award covers physical and emotional pain and suffering, Conlogue said. The jury declined to award punitive damages.
Jonathan McCaverty, principal deputy county counsel, said the county was deciding whether to appeal the verdict, but he had no further comment.
Cisneros still works as a deputy, while Cruz is no longer with the department, said a sheriff's spokeswoman.