A federal jury found that a Los Angeles police officer used excessive force when he fatally shot a combative suspect in the back, awarding the dead man’s family $2 million, according to court records and attorneys involved in the case.
The jurors this week awarded $1.5 million to the man’s mother, Maria Delores Ramirez, and an additional $500,000 to the family of the deceased for the fatal 2014 shooting, officials said.
Officer Joshua Towe shot Luis Ramirez, 38, during a confrontation that occurred when police responded to calls of vandalism and trespassing in a Lake Balboa neighborhood, officials said. Officers encountered Ramirez wielding a broom when the shooting occurred.
“My client was shot in the back and killed by the LAPD when he was only carrying a broomstick,” said attorney Shane Hapuarachy.
Hapuarachy and John DeNove, who represented the Ramirez family in the civil case, said police could have used other methods to resolve the situation. The attorneys said the city tried to argue that the mother did not have standing to file the claim because she was in Guatemala.
Last December, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office found the shooting lawful given Luis Ramirez’s actions. The Los Angeles Police Commission and Chief Charlie Beck also found the shooting to be within the department’s shooting policy on use of force.
When officers first confronted Ramirez on a July morning in 2014, he tossed rocks at them and refused to comply with their orders to stop, wielding the broom, authorities said. Ramirez had been trying to force his way into a home in the 6700 block of Hayvenhurst Avenue home and was apparently drunk, according to police reports.
An officer shot Ramirez with a Taser and another shot him with a bean bag from a shotgun, authorities said. In its report on the shooting, the district attorney’s office noted that after Ramirez was hit with the Taser, he lunged at a female officer holding the stun gun and tried to strike her on the head.
City lawyers argued that Ramirez refused officers’ commands to drop his weapons and that when he moved toward the officer with the stun gun, Towe fired his 9-millimeter handgun three times, striking Ramirez in the back.