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Parents of mentally ill man fatally shot by LAPD awarded $3.5 million

An LAPD officer stands outside the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Harbor City after the December 2015 shooting of Ruben Herrera.
An LAPD officer stands outside the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Harbor City after the December 2015 shooting of Ruben Herrera.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A federal jury awarded $3.5 million on Friday to the parents of a mentally ill man who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer while at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, according to the family’s attorney.

Ruben Herrera, 26, had been taken to the emergency room in December 2015 by officers after they used a Taser and a carotid restraint — where pressure is applied to the sides of the neck — on him, authorities said at the time.

They had encountered Herrera that morning after responding to a report of a man throwing bottles at an apartment complex in the Harbor Gateway neighborhood.

After Herrera was treated at the hospital, he attacked the officers and reached for their guns, authorities said. Officer Alejandro Downey then shot Herrera, who died at the scene.

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The lawsuit filed by Graciela Herrera and Ruben Ordaz, however, said their son posed no threat and that the officers used excessive force when they first responded to the incident.

It also said that officers were told upon arrival that Ruben Herrera had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Dale Galipo, the parents’ attorney, said there that were no fingerprints to establish Herrera had touched the officers’ holsters, belts or guns, and that a medical examiner testified that the exit wound of the bullet showed Herrera was shot in the back while on the floor.

Galipo said the jury deliberated for two hours before unanimously deciding on the damages for wrongful death.

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The deputy city attorneys handling the case could not be reached for comment.

corina.knoll@latimes.com

Twitter: @corinaknoll

Times staff writers Kate Mather and Doug Smith contributed to this report.

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