The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay $650,000 to the family of a man shot to death in Compton by a sheriff’s deputy in 2012 in a struggle over the deputy’s gun.
On Nov. 14, 2012, Jose Luis Toloza, 35, was standing with two other men on a sidewalk in the 4000 block of East Queensdale Street when deputies in a patrol car drove up because they smelled marijuana, according to a summary provided to the board.
Toloza walked away from the group and “appeared” to toss “an object toward a nearby gate.” The deputies got out of their car, approached Toloza, found he was in possession of marijuana and walked him back to the car to see if he was carrying more drugs.
Toloza told the deputies he lived in a trailer in front of the house where the men had been standing and consented to a search, according to the deputies.
One deputy detained Toloza outside while the other searched the trailer and found “large quantities of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.”
When the second deputy radioed back, Toloza broke free and sprinted down the street. A chase ensued, with one deputy in pursuit. He grabbed hold of Toloza’s shirt collar at one point but lost his grip and then grabbed Toloza’s pant leg as he scaled a chain link fence.
The deputy pulled Toloza off the fence, but “fell onto his back, his hips and legs were tangled in rose bushes.”
Toloza allegedly landed on his feet and straddled the deputy, stomping on his chest and saying, “I’m not going back to jail. I’m going to kill you!” according to the summary.
The deputy knocked Toloza off balance but then both men struggled for the deputy’s gun.
“In fear for his life, the first deputy sheriff drew his duty firearm and fired three rounds, fatally striking the decedent,” the summary concluded.
Toloza died at the scene.
A security guard witnessed the shooting.
A corrective action plan provided to the board noted several errors on the part of the deputy and his partner, including a failure to coordinate a tactical plan prior to the search or attempted arrest and a lack of communication throughout.
The District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officer acted in self-defense, but an internal review by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department found that the deputies acted in violation of department policy and noted that “appropriate administrative action has been taken.”
–City News Service
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