A Los Angeles jury unanimously rejected a lawsuit by the family of a 21-year-old man who was shot and killed by an LAPD officer in 2010, dismissing claims that improper tactics used by officers led to the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged that officers were negligent in their response to a 911 call for assistance by the family of Oscar Morales, 21, who was suicidal and had just returned to his home from a so-called 5150 hold, a forced 72-hour detention of those who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
After two officers arrived at the North Hills home in May 2010, they were told by a family member that Morales was suicidal and prone to violent outbursts, according to the lawsuit.
The officers then separated, with one taking family members to another room while the other officer, Davis Giron, remained in the living room with Morales.
A short while later, Morales threatened Giron with a fire poker and was shot and killed.
Attorney John Burton, who represented the Morales family, said they did not dispute that officers acted appropriately in their use of lethal force. The shooting, however, could have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently, he said.
“No one was saying that the decision to pull the trigger was wrong, that was not the case at all … but the officer used inappropriate tactics to isolate him in the room,” Burton said. “He went from calm to suicide-by-cop in a moment.”
A spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday’s jury verdict.
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