The mother of a 21-year-old man who was shot and killed by two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in August has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the county and the deputies, according to court documents.
Authorities were searching for three robbery suspects at the Nueva Maravilla Housing Community in East Los Angeles early on Aug. 12. One of the robbers had a gun tucked into his waistband, according to a report called in to authorities, and had stolen a man’s watch.
Deputies tried to detain Anthony Daniel Vargas while searching the housing complex, but Vargas ran and hid, officials said. He ignored deputies’ orders and resisted their attempts to handcuff him before he pulled a gun from his waistband, Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred told The Times last year after the shooting.
Alfred said then that deputies got into a violent struggle with Vargas and that he had a gun in his hand when they shot him.
Investigators said they found a loaded semiautomatic .22-caliber pistol underneath Vargas’ body and that the gun had not been fired. The deputies were unable to find the thieves, Alfred said, and investigators do not think Vargas was involved in the robbery.
The lawsuit claims that Vargas was unarmed and posed no imminent threat when he was shot.
Vargas was not involved in gangs or known to carry a gun, said Humberto Guizar, the attorney representing Vargas’ mother, Lisa. Vargas led Bible study groups and worked for a church warehouse, he said.
“It is very suspicious,” Guizar said. “He was never known to have a gun. How can we not suspect that they planted a gun on him?”
The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks damages from the county, accusing the Sheriff’s Department of condoning the shooting of unarmed civilians by deputies.