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L.A. County to pay $3.75 million to family of teen killed by sheriff’s deputy

L.A. County to pay $3.75 million to family of teen killed by sheriff’s deputy
John Weber touches a photo of his son, Anthony Weber, 16, who was killed by an L.A. County sheriff's deputy in 2018. Anthony's family has said they want all the money from a legal settlement to go to his young daughter, Violet, in the stroller. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County taxpayers will pay $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Sheriff’s Department deputy in February 2018, county leaders decided Tuesday.

The killing of Anthony Weber sparked weeks of protests in South Los Angeles, fueled in part by frustration over deputies’ claims that the boy was carrying a gun. Family members also said the department failed to communicate with them about details of the shooting.

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No firearm was found, the Sheriff’s Department said, reasoning that it could have gone missing in the crowd that formed after the shooting. Anthony’s family and community members said the boy was unarmed.

Two deputies responded to a report of a young man who pointed a gun at a motorist in the 1200 block of 107th Street just before 7:40 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2018. Thirty-four minutes later, deputies arrived and walked down a driveway at an apartment complex where they spotted Anthony, who was wearing clothing that was similar to the description given by the caller, according to a county corrective action plan.

Both deputies said they saw a handgun tucked into Weber’s waistband, with one officer describing the firearm as a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol with black Talon grips and a red dot sight, according to the county document.

When the deputies drew their weapons and ordered Anthony to show his hands, the boy ran away before turning toward one of the officers and reaching toward his waistband, according to the county report. One deputy fired at the boy 13 times, striking him several times. The other deputy did not discharge his weapon.

Attorneys for Anthony’s parents and daughter said some of the shots hit the 16-year-old in his back.

After the shooting, several people came out of their apartments and shouted at the deputies, who were unable to secure the scene for about 30 minutes, the county document says. Deputies said they believed someone in the crowd stole the firearm.

A Smith & Wesson pistol similar to the one described by one of the deputies was later recovered in a search warrant on a residence near the shooting, according to the county corrective action plan. The caller who made the initial 911 call was interviewed and identified Anthony as the person who pointed a gun at him, the county document says.

Anthony was described by family members as a loving person who displayed maturity in his devotion to his daughter, Violet. Anthony’s father has said he wants all the money from the legal settlement to be set aside for the girl, who is still a toddler.

The incident was not captured on a body-worn camera, as the Sheriff’s Department does not outfit its patrol deputies with the devices.

Dale Galipo, one of the attorneys for the Weber family, called the settlement “substantial.”

“I think a settlement like this is an implicit acknowledgment that this was a bad shooting,” he said.

Shootings by deputies in which a person was hit were up in the first three months of 2019, with four incidents, compared with the same period last year, when there were two, including the shooting of Anthony. Those figures are included in a recent report by the L.A. County Office of Inspector General.

But the data also show that shootings by deputies have decreased over the last five years. In 2013, there were 44 shootings by deputies; last year, there were 22.

Also Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $337,500 settlement in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging the Sheriff’s Department improperly withheld data from automated license plate readers pursuant to a California Public Records Act request.

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An additional $700,000 settlement was approved in the case of Osvaldo Ureta, who was shot while trying to flee from sheriff’s deputies in 2011. He survived. The shooting gained attention as one of seven shootings by one deputy, Anthony Forlano.

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