LOS ANGELES COUNTY : $145,000 Punitive Award Given in Motorist's Slaying

A jury awarded $145,000 in punitive damages Monday to the widow and three daughters of a 23-year-old man who was shot to death by a transit police officer in 1990.

The jury reviewing the circumstances that led to the death of Alejandro Bodan already had awarded Nelly Bodan and her daughters $3.5 million in compensatory damages.

The total is far below what attorney Sheldon Sacks had sought: $13.1 million in compensatory and $1 million in punitive damages.

Officer Richard DeMartino shot Bodan on April 29, 1990, after pulling the motorist over near Downtown Los Angeles for erratic driving. DeMartino testified that Bodan was drunk, belligerent and continued to fish for something under his seat after the officer and his partner twice warned the driver that they would shoot unless he put his hands in clear view. No gun was found in Bodan's car.

Attorney Anthony Serritella, who represented DeMartino and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, maintained that DeMartino did not use excessive force. However, the jury found that DeMartino was acting out of malice and oppression.

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