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Pact Would Pay $450,000 in Shooting : Courts: County tentatively settles suit brought by parents of a man slain by deputy. The death touched off a disturbance at Ramona Gardens project.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County has tentatively settled a wrongful death lawsuit, agreeing to pay $450,000 to the family of a teen-ager who was fatally shot in 1991 by a sheriff’s deputy at the Ramona Gardens housing project in East Los Angeles.

The settlement brought an abrupt end to a 2 1/2-week-old trial against former sheriff’s Deputy Jason Mann, now retired, and the county in the shooting of Arturo (Smokey) Jimenez, whose death touched off a disturbance at the housing project.

“We have a secure resolution that will give the family a chance to start a new life,” said R. Samuel Paz, who represented Jimenez’s mother. “She wanted her son’s life to mean something for her family and this will help.”

The agreement must be approved by the County Board of Supervisors. Under details of the settlement, the parents, Elva and Javier Jimenez, agreed not to criticize the deputy or the Sheriff’s Department.

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But Jimenez’s parents had harsh words for the settlement.

“I’m not happy,” said Elva Jimenez, who is separated from her husband and has five surviving children. “It’s not good. There is no justice.”

“I’m not interested in the money,” said Javier Jimenez, a native of Guadalajara, in Mexico. “I’m interested for justice for Mexican people. And in this case, I’m sorry to say, there is no justice for la raza, for Mexicans, in Los Angeles.

“I have the impression that there is more justice in dog bite cases than in cases involving Mexicans in this country.”

When the shooting occurred, “there was a tremendous outcry from the community and a mural was erected at the site of the shooting and is still remembered with sadness,” Paz said.

The incident began about 1:35 a.m. on Aug. 3, 1991, after Mann and his partner, Dana Ellison, chased a car into the Ramona Gardens complex. They said the car was speeding. According to authorities, the deputies’ vehicle was struck by a beer bottle as it passed a group partying near Evergreen and Lancaster avenues.

Authorities said that when the deputies left their vehicle to investigate the bottle throwing, Jimenez grabbed Ellison’s flashlight and struck him on the head.

According to the official account, Mann ordered Jimenez to drop the flashlight. When he ignored the order and continued to swing the metal flashlight, Mann shot Jimenez three times in the chest. Mann claimed his partner was knocked unconscious by the blows from Jimenez. Witnesses said Jimenez, who was identified as a gang member, argued with the deputies but never struck anyone.

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Attorney Paz said the shooting was not justified. He said the county decided to settle after Ellison contradicted Mann’s account of the incident. “He said he was never knocked out,” Paz said.

An internal Sheriff’s Department investigation had concluded that the deputies acted within department guidelines for the use of deadly force during the confrontation. The two deputies were cleared by the district attorney’s office and the county grand jury.

The $450,000 was the same amount the two sides had initially settled on until the county backed out and decided to go to trial.

“Everybody is not totally happy with the settlement, but that is why it’s a settlement,” said John A. Daly, a private attorney who represented the county.

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He later he told jurors he was preparing to introduce evidence that would have revealed that Jimenez was on PCP.


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