Ex-Officer Who Shot Boy Offers to Drop Suit if Stanton Will Pay Tuition

A former Stanton police officer who mistakenly shot and killed a 5-year-old boy in 1983 says he will drop a $25-million lawsuit against Stanton if the city pays his law school tuition and lets him carry a concealed weapon.

Ex-Officer Anthony Sperl also asked city officials to destroy his old .357-Magnum revolver "for moral reasons."

It was the gun Sperl used when he shot Patrick Andrew Mason, 5, on March 3, 1983, in the darkened apartment where his mother had left him while she was at work. Patrick had a toy gun. Sperl thought it was real and opened fire.

Sperl, 27, said city officials promised him a chance to build a new career after he left the force in August, 1983, and he wants $20,000 from the city to continue his studies at a Los Angeles law school. He also wants the right to carry a concealed firearm.

Mother Accepted Settlement

"What we're talking about here are things that were promised to me before," Sperl said. "You don't see me making a demand for $8 million, because I'm not."

Patrick's mother, Patricia Ridge, accepted a $395,000 settlement from the city on May 9.

At the time of the shooting, Ridge said she had left her son at home alone because she could not afford a baby sitter. She now lives in Chicago.

Sperl was dispatched to the apartment after a neighbor called police to say the mother and child hadn't been seen for weeks.

Underwent Psychotherapy

When he reported to the station that the apartment was locked and there was no answer inside, he was instructed to contact the building manager, who let Sperl into the apartment with a passkey.

Sperl underwent years of psychotherapy after the shooting.

Stanton City Attorney Tom Allen said the issue of paying for Sperl's education is still under negotiation, but Los Angeles attorney Otis Wright, who represents the city's insurance carriers, said it's unlikely the money will be paid.

City officials said they probably would agree to destroy the gun but that Sperl would not be allowed to carry a concealed firearm.

Asks City to Pay Lawyer

In addition, Sperl has asked that the city pay $5,000 in legal fees owed his current lawyer, Sherman Oaks attorney Edward L. Masry. Allen said that remains a matter of discussion.

Sperl's cross-complaint against Stanton is one of the last open issues in a lengthy legal battle that has cost the city or its carriers more than $500,000.

The only other facet of the case still pending is a civil wrongful-death action brought by Patrick's father, Larry R. Hewitt, who's serving a 40-year term in Joliet, Ill., prison for murder and robbery.

That case will be settled between Hewitt and Ridge, said her Newport Beach lawyer, Richard Farnell.

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