The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay out $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 31-year-old man fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in front of his Lakewood home in 2015.
The board documents offered little detail, not even the date of the shooting, beyond noting that “the deputies claim their actions were reasonable under the circumstances” and recommending settlement based on the risks and uncertainties of litigation.
Chris Berry, a federal police officer, called deputies on July 6, 2015, and asked for help with his brother John, who suffered from mental illness, according to the lawsuit. The family was concerned that he wasn’t taking his medication.
A sheriff’s spokeswoman said when the shooting was first reported deputies were called out because John Berry was acting erratically. When they arrived, he suddenly and without provocation rammed their patrol car with his vehicle, according to deputies.
He fought with deputies and wasn’t subdued by the use of pepper spray and a Taser, according to a department spokeswoman.
A cellphone video captured the shooting but did not include the collision between the cars, which Chris Berry said never happened.
“They said he accelerated and crashed into the police car. That did not happen — I was there for the whole thing,” Chris Berry told the Los Angeles Times.
“But they have to say that because it justifies their aggressive actions … I believe in my heart and I know Johnny wasn’t trying to hurt them.”
The lawsuit alleged that 20-30 shots were fired at Berry as his car began moving in reverse. It claimed no deputy was injured during the confrontation.
The sheriff’s spokeswoman said John Berry purposely put his car in reverse and a deputy was crushed between the suspect’s car and an adjacent sheriff’s patrol car, prompting the shooting.
The injured deputy was treated at a hospital for abrasions, bruising and cuts to both legs and his left arm, according to Deputy Amber Smith.
The board approved the settlement Tuesday without discussion.
No corrective action plan to prevent similar situations was provided as part of the board documentation and the board voted to postpone any discussion of corrective measures.
–City News Service