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Payment of $850,000 Urged in Complaints Involving Deputies : Law enforcement: Claims Board’s action now goes to supervisors. Another $160,000 settlement is endorsed.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County moved Monday to pay $850,000 to settle a new series of brutality complaints lodged against sheriff’s deputies--including two cases that resulted in deaths.

Members of the county Claims Board approved the settlements to head off five lawsuits filed by alleged victims or their families, after being told the county could face greater liability by allowing the matters to go to trial.

The board also endorsed a sixth settlement, for $160,000, to a 19-year-old man injured four years ago when his auto was struck by a sheriff’s patrol car.

The settlements were the result of negotiations between county lawyers and attorneys for plaintiffs who have sued the county in Superior Court. Board Chairwoman Nancy Singer said payments over $100,000 must be ratified by county supervisors, who are tentatively scheduled to review the cases June 19.

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Action by the three-member board followed disclosures by The Times last week that 151 excessive-force lawsuits were filed against the Sheriff’s Department last year. Over a three-year period that ended last September, such cases cost the county $8.5 million in jury settlements and awards.

The latest settlements included $520,000 in restitution for the fatal shooting of a Pico Rivera man by deputies during a 1987 family dispute, and a $100,000 payment to the family of a Carson man who died in 1984 after struggling with deputies outside a rodeo.

Pascual Solis, 28, a self-employed contractor, was shot to death after allegedly fighting with deputies called to break up a disturbance at the home of his girlfriend. The settlement will be divided among the woman, Sarah Lilian Chavez Donis of Los Angeles; Solis’ estranged wife, Liduvina Reyes of Bakersfield; and his six children, county lawyers said.

Enrique Rodriguez, a 33-year-old food services worker, died of a heart attack after fighting with deputies. Five officers were called to restrain Rodriguez, who reportedly had a history of mental illness, after he allegedly caused a disturbance at a rodeo in the City of Industry. The settlement will be paid to his wife and four children, officials said.

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Other settlements approved Monday included:

- A $45,000 payment to brothers Jose and Edward Rodriguez for injuries they received while fighting with deputies two years ago. Authorities alleged that the Pomona residents, who were 14 and 12 at the time, attempted to run away after deputies stopped a stolen car driven by Jose Rodriguez.

- An $80,000 award to Stephanie Edwards-Norfleet, 33, of Inglewood, whose arm was broken in 1985 by a deputy attempting to handcuff her. Officials said she was restrained when she argued with jailers after posting bail on traffic warrants.

- A $105,000 settlement to three men allegedly beaten by deputies after being arrested in 1987 on suspicion of public drunkenness. Christopher Bonzoumet, 35, Michael Espinoza, 30, both of Long Beach, and Craig Steinmetz, 25, of Los Angeles, were released 10 hours later without being charged.

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- A $160,000 payment to Daniel Concepcion Jr., of Moreno Valley, who suffered serious injuries in 1986 when the auto in which he was riding was struck by a sheriff’s patrol car in Carson. Concepcion, who was 15 at the time, claimed that the deputies’ car was speeding. Officials said the deputies were transporting a prisoner to the Carson sheriff’s station.

A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department had no comment on the settlements.


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