Family of mentally ill man sues LAPD over his fatal shooting in Culver City last year

 LAPD headquarters
The family of Victor Valencia, who was killed during a confrontation with a Los Angeles police officer last year, has filed a federal lawsuit.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Family members of a mentally ill man who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police while holding a bicycle part that resembled a handgun in Culver City last year have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of L.A. and the officers involved.

The son and parents of Victor Valencia, 31, allege in their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, that Valencia presented no threat and that his rights were violated when he was confronted and shot by LAPD Sgt. Colin Langsdale.

The family alleges Langsdale “ignored clear signs” of Valencia’s mental illness and “failed to de-escalate” the situation. They notethat Valencia did not have a firearm, but a bicycle handle, and allege that Langsdale’s firing multiple times at Valencia was “excessive and unreasonable.”

They also allege Langsdale failed to provide proper aid to Valencia after the shooting, and that the LAPD has failed to properly train and discipline officers.


The LAPD declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuit follows a unanimous vote by the L.A. Police Commission in late November finding Langsdale had acted within department policy when he shot Valencia, clearing him of any administrative punishment.

A report on the case provided to the commission said that Langsdale had responded to the area of South Sepulveda and South Venice boulevards about 12:45 on a Saturday afternoon after police had received reports about a man with a gun. Langsdale did not have his body-camera activated at the time of the shooting. When his camera was activated, Valencia was already on the ground.

Langsdale and other witnesses on the scene said they believed Valencia had a gun. Surveillance footage from the area showed Valencia holding up the bike handle and appearing agitated.

The case has attracted attention from activists, who have said police abuse those with mental illness and that Valencia’s shooting was unjustified.

The lawsuit comes as activists and city officials increasingly push to have more incidents involving people with mental illness handled by trained health professionals rather than police. Pilot programs to provide such alternate services have been launched, though calls about a man armed with a gun would still attract a police response.