L.A. to pay $3.9 million to the parents of a man fatally shot by police at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after Ruben Herrera was fatally shot by a police officer Dec. 19, 2015.
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after Ruben Herrera was fatally shot by a police officer Dec. 19, 2015.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The parents of a man who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center will receive $3.9 million in compensation from the city.

In October, a jury awarded $3.5 million plus attorneys fees to the parents of Ruben Herrera. The family had alleged use of excessive force, negligence and other violations in a federal lawsuit. The Los Angeles City Council approved the payment Wednesday.

Dale Galipo, one of the Herrera family’s attorneys, said the size of the award shows the jury did not buy the police account that Herrera reached for one officer’s gun.


“Juries are realizing that these stories proffered by these police officers to justify these shootings are not credible,” Galipo said.

Herrera, 26, was taken to the hospital Dec. 19, 2015, after police officers put him in a chokehold and used a Taser on him outside his apartment in Torrance.

The officers had responded to a call about someone throwing glass bottles.

When they attempted to question Herrera, he repeatedly asked “why,” then lunged at an officer with clenched fists and kicked the officer, according to a report by the Los Angeles Police Commission.

In the fight that followed, Herrera punched the officer and attempted to take his gun, according to the report.

Herrera’s mother, Graciela Herrera, told the officers that her son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


At the hospital, Herrera underwent a CAT scan and had his blood drawn. He was calm during the procedures, the medical staff said.

But after a second pair of officers removed Herrera’s handcuffs, Herrera threw a metal stool at them and charged at them with the stool, according to a Police Commission report.

The officers attempted to use a Taser to subdue Herrera, who began fighting with them, the report said.

Officer Alejandro Downey, who had been with the LAPD for 10 years, told investigators that Herrera reached for his gun.

Downey said “stop, or I’ll shoot,” but Herrera reached for the gun again, according to the report. Downey then shot Herrera in the back.

The Police Commission found that Downey acted reasonably, fearing that Herrera would shoot him, his partner or the hospital staff.

In their lawsuit, Herrera’s parents argued that the police officers should have known that Herrera was mentally ill and should have used less-than-lethal tactics rather than shooting him.

Colleen Smith of the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, who represented the city in the lawsuit, did not respond to a request for comment.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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