The family of a 14-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer last August in Boyle Heights filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the city and the officer involved.
Jesse James Romero was killed around 5:50 p.m. on Aug. 9 near Breed Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue.
According to the federal lawsuit, the teen was shot in the back “in a cold calculated manner” as he was running away from officers and after he threw his gun over a fence.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, said the office had not yet received the complaint and had no comment.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, officers had gone to the neighborhood on a report of vandalism involving “gang writing,” and the suspects were described as being about 14 to 16 years old.
LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos said shortly after the shooting that officers spotted two suspects, and one fled on foot.
“According to a witness, who saw the subject running from the officers, the witness saw the subject shoot a handgun in the direction of the pursuing officers,” Arcos said then.
He said the pursuing officers heard a gunshot as they approached a corner, and as “the officers rounded the corner, one of the officers became involved in an officer-involved shooting.”
Arcos said a weapon was recovered at the scene.
Humberto Guizar, an attorney for Romero’s family, said he is in possession of video footage showing a gun on the opposite side of a fence from where the teen’s body was found, suggesting he threw it over a fence, which caused it to discharge. He also said there were witnesses who saw the boy throw the gun and get shot in the back while running away.
“It would have been impossible for Jesse to have the gun in his hand at the time the officers shot him in the back,” Guizar said.
The lawsuit alleges the LAPD delayed getting medical assistance for the teen, and lacked probable cause to stop him and to use deadly force against him. In doing so, the lawsuit claims Romero was deprived of his civil rights and the officer who shot him, Eden Medina, caused his wrongful death, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit also alleges the LAPD has failed to properly train and supervise its officers, leading to the unnecessary and unreasonable use of excessive force, and used unconstitutional police tactics to investigate use-of-force incidents.
“The LAPD has fostered a culture of allowing its officers to shoot people and get away with it, and not discipline them and not take them off the streets,” Guizar alleged.
–City News Service