LAPD killed a man after mistaking his cellphone for a gun. Now his family gets a $1.9-million settlement

City Hall is reflected in the windows of LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
(Christina House / For The Times)

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay $1.9 million for the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by police.

Dontaze Storey’s son and the boy’s attorneys will receive the settlement and fees in connection with the 2008 shooting.

In 2014, a civil jury found that a Los Angeles Police Department officer used excessive force and awarded $750,000 in damages to Storey’s son. Another $942,000 in attorneys’ fees was also approved by the court.

The city unsuccessfully appealed the verdict, adding to the final cost of the settlement.

The shooting occurred after a foot pursuit on Nov. 11, 2008, near 3rd Street and New Hampshire Avenue. The chase began after officers answered a 911 call of a report of assault with a deadly weapon at a Rite-Aid in the 300 block of South Vermont Avenue. The officers were warned by radio that the suspect was armed with a gun. An LAPD helicopter directed officers to Storey.


Officer Daniel Bunch said he opened fire when Storey turned toward him and his partner with a silver-colored object that Bunch believed to be a handgun. Officer Oliver Malabuya said he fired after hearing a shot and seeing Bunch discharge his weapon.

The object held by Storey turned out to be a cellphone.

But witnesses testified that they had not seen anything in Storey’s hand. His fiancee, Estaze Yankey, testified that he had nothing in his hand when he was shot.


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