A judge signed off Wednesday on a $3.5 million settlement of a lawsuit filed against the city of Los Angeles by a woman who was seriously injured when she fell out of an LAPD patrol car while handcuffed in Koreatown in 2013.
The woman was an MBA graduate student at Loyola Marymount University when she was cuffed and put into the back seat of a patrol car for alleged public drunkeness. She fell from the patrol car at about 30 mph while leaning against an unlocked backseat doort to get away from one of the officers who was allegedly trying to touch her inappropriately, according to the lawsuit.
Attorney David Crochetiere, who represents 31-year-old plaintiff Kim Nguyen, said the settlement was approved by the City Council last month. Wednesday’s action by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court allows the city to fund the settlement.
Officers David Shin and Jin Oh arrested Nguyen for public intoxication after they saw her run across the street about 3 a.m. on March 17, 2013. At the time, Nguyen was a graduate student in her last semester at Loyola Marymount University’s MBA program.
Nguyen was handcuffed and put in the back seat of a squad car off Sixth Street between Oxford and Serrano avenues, according to her court papers, which state that she “was not seatbelted into the car and the manual door lock was not engaged.”
The officers chose not to arrest a male companion who also was drunk, according to Nguyen’s lawyers, who also alleged that one of the officers got into the back seat with their client and inappropriately touched her.
Nguyen huddled against one of the patrol car doors to protect herself and minutes later fell out of the vehicle as it was being driven east on Olympic Boulevard at about 30 mph, according to her lawyers’ court papers, which say she fell face-first onto the pavement, causing injuries to her brain, face, head and teeth.
A building security camera captured the aftermath after Nguyen was ejected, according to her attorneys’ court papers, which say that one of the officers was “nonchalantly standing over plaintiff who lies bloodied, with her face swollen, in the middle of the street.”
Nguyen was hospitalized for 17 days and underwent “extensive and painful surgeries,” her court papers state. She sued in July 2013.
Defense attorneys maintained Nguyen was trying to escape, but she maintained she could not have done so because her hands were restrained.
—City News Service