The Los Angeles City Council approved a $1.95 million settlement Tuesday with the family of a woman who was fatally shot by two police officers.
Attorneys for the family of Norma Guzman argued that the 37-year-old woman was harmless and her death at the hands of Los Angeles Police Department Officers Samuel Briggs and Antonio McNeely in the Central City area on Sept. 27, 2015, was unreasonable.
The settlement was approved on a vote of 12-2, with Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mitchell Englander voting against the settlement. Buscaino is a former LAPD officer and Englander is a reserve officer with the force.
According to the LAPD, someone called 911 around 9:30 a.m. the day of the shooting and claimed that Guzman was yelling on the street and carrying a knife. Upon arriving at the scene near 22nd and South San Pedro streets and exiting their vehicle, the officers repeatedly ordered Guzman to drop a knife she was carrying, but she continued approaching them and was shot by both officers, police said.
Attorneys for the city argued in court documents that the officers’ actions were “reasonable under the circumstances.” However, the Board of Police Commissioners, which is the civilian body overseeing the department, ruled in 2016 that one of the officer’s tactics and use of deadly force was not within department policy. The ruling differed from the opinion of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who defended both of the officers’ actions as justified.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced last year that no charges would be filed against either officer involved in Guzman’s death after finding that the officers had reason to fear for their lives.
Attorneys for Guzman’s family released surveillance video from a nearby store that shows the shooting, and how the entire confrontation from the time the officers exited the vehicle until Guzman was shot lasted about 10 seconds. It shows Guzman walking steadily toward the officers before she was shot about four feet away from them.
Attorneys for Guzman’s family argued in court documents that “there was no reasonable basis for them to shoot her.”
Guzman had seven prior contacts with the LAPD’s mental health unit and was determined to have methamphetamines and THC in her bloodstream at the time of her death, according to prosecutors.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, declined to comment on the settlement.