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Parents of 16-year-old who was fatally shot by L.A. police reach $200,000 settlement

Juan Mendez, the father of Jose Peruzzi Mendez, tears up as he talks about his son during a community meeting in 2016.
Juan Mendez, the father of Jose Peruzzi Mendez, tears up as he talks about his son during a community meeting.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

The parents of a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police in 2016 reached a $200,000 settlement with the city in a lawsuit that alleged their son was killed without provocation.

Juan and Josefina Mendez alleged wrongful death, civil rights violations and assault and battery after their son, Jose Mendez, was shot 13 times.

At 10:45 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2016, L.A. police pulled over a vehicle that had been reported stolen in Boyle Heights. The driver, Mendez, was shot after allegedly pointing a sawed-off shotgun at officers.

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Officers turned their body cameras on after the shooting. Footage shows that officers pulled Mendez from the car, carried him down the street and handcuffed him.

Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene, roughly 10 minutes after the shooting occurred.

An autopsy showed that Mendez suffered 19 gunshot wounds. Deputy Medical Examiner Vadims Poukens noted that a single bullet can produce multiple wounds.

The suit alleged that Officers Josue Merida and Jeremy Wagner did not follow LAPD protocol, which required them to seek backup and order the suspect to leave the vehicle with hands up. The suit alleged that officers instead ran toward the teen’s car and shot him several times without issuing any commands.

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Lawyers for the city attorney’s office argued that Mendez was negligent and that the statute of limitations had expired on some claims in the suit.

The L.A. County district attorney’s office had previously concluded that Merida and Wagner used lawful force in self-defense.

“The family was eager to put this horrible nightmare to an end and no amount of money could replace their son,” Attorney Arnoldo Casillas said. “They wanted to close the matter and move forward with their lives.”

Mendez was not the youngest person fatally shot by LAPD officers in 2016. Fourteen-year-old Jesse Romero was killed seven months later during a foot chase through Boyle Heights.


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