The mother of a 38-year-old Glendale man who was shot dead by police in January has filed a wrongful death claim against the city alleging officers used excessive force.
Vicky Gold is seeking $2 million in damages for the death of her son, Richard Hughes, who she claims was “delirious and was not a threat to officers” when he was shot Jan. 5 in the 1700 block of Riverside Drive, according to her claim. Hughes reportedly was holding a knife and ignored several demands before he was shot.
“He was a human being,” she said in an interview. “He was crying for help.”
The city has denied Gold’s claim, according to city spokesman Tom Lorenz.
The Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office conducted separate investigations of the shooting and determined the officer who shot Hughes acted in lawful self-defense.
“The fact is that we have the whole thing on video tape,” Lorenz said, adding that the dashboard camera in the officer’s patrol car recorded the incident.
The day of the incident, Gold said her son took Ambien, a prescription drug used to treat sleep problems, before his girlfriend called paramedics. That upset Hughes, Gold said, because he didn’t want to go to a mental hospital again.
Soon after his girlfriend reported Hughes had overdosed, Glendale police arrived in an alley near Riverside Drive, where they heard screaming and items breaking, according to a district attorney’s report on the shooting.
Hughes then reportedly stuck his head out a window and urged police to use him for target practice.
A short time later, Hughes emerged from his home holding a knife and came within what police described as striking distance, according to the report. Police ordered him several times to drop the knife, and when he refused, an officer fired one round into Hughes’ chest.
Police found two knives next to Hughes, who died at the hospital from the gunshot wound.
Hughes was going through a rough patch in his life at the time, Gold said. He had recently lost his job, broke up with his girlfriend and suffered from bi-polar disorder for which he took antidepressants, she said. He had also attempted suicide a year earlier, she added.
According to the district attorney’s report, Hughes told his girlfriend two days before the shooting that he would make police shoot him.
During the incident, he sent an email that stated, “Cops are here ia m (sic) making them shoot me. I loved you … but it's too late. I never mattered to you … today I die. I DIE NOW,” according to the report.
Two days after the shooting, Gold said a friend called and told her that her son was dead.
“He was a good man,” she said of her son.