Relatives of a man accidentally shot to death in his Pico Rivera home in 2014 by a sheriff’s deputy — during an exchange of gunfire between deputies and a parolee — reached a tentative settlement of a lawsuit they filed against Los Angeles County.
Lawyers for Los Angeles County filed court papers with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock on Friday stating that the case involving the shooting of Frank Mendoza was resolved, subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors. No terms were divulged.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2015 by Mildred Mae Mendoza, the mother of the slain man; Mendoza’s wife, Lorraine Munoz; and Mendoza’s children, Jeremy Lorraine, Steven, Frank Jr., and Jason. The suit alleged negligence and battery and seeks unspecified damages.
Mendoza, 54, was shot Aug. 1, 2014, in the doorway of his residence.
The suspect sought by deputies, then-24-year-old Cedric Ramirez — an armed parolee wanted on felony warrants — was killed when a sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau team raided the home several hours later.
Ramirez had been spotted by deputies and a probation officer earlier in the day, but he fled on foot, sheriff’s officials said.
A short time later, deputies spotted Ramirez on the driveway of a nearby home, according to the sheriff’s department. Ramirez shot at the deputies, one of whom returned fire and may have wounded the suspect, deputies said. Ramirez then ran behind a house in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive and broke in through a rear window, deputies said.
The suit stated that although deputies went inside Mendoza’s home to look for Ramirez before the shooting and found Mendoza with his wife and two of his children, the lawmen left the family vulnerable when they departed, thus allowing the parolee to enter the residence.
“As a result, (Mendoza and his relatives), fearing for their lives, had no choice but to attempt to escape from their home without the assistance of the (deputies),” the suit stated.
Mendoza was shot by the deputy while he was trying to escape, the suit stated. The deputies who left the home earlier were negligent because they did not stay with Mendoza and his family or take the alternative action of evacuating them, the suit stated.
In 2014, Interim Sheriff John Scott addressed the Mendoza shooting, saying Ramirez fired at deputies from inside the home.
“Within seconds of those shots being fired, an individual appeared in the living room moving towards the front doorway,” Scott said. “Based on the quick movement of the individual, a deputy positioned in the front yard thought he was the suspect trying to seek a position inside the front of the home to assault other deputies located outside the window.
“Believing he was an immediate threat to his partners, the deputy fired twice, striking the man, who fell to the floor just inside the front door. Tragically, it was Mr. Mendoza,” Scott said.
After Mendoza was shot, Ramirez remained barricaded inside the house, and he held Mendoza’s then-60-year-old wife hostage until a sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau team raided the home, ending with the fatal shooting of the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s department.
The woman was taken to a hospital to be examined, but she was not injured, deputies said.
Scott said the scene unfolded quickly, and deputies were making split-second decisions.
“We had three individuals come out, and there were shots being fired.” Scott said. “Within about seven seconds, the individual appeared in the doorway from the same general area as the shots that had been fired. So that was the information they were working off of. You had an individual shooting at deputies, and then you had — moments later — the individual moving across the doorway.”
Ramirez did not know the victims, according to the sheriff’s department.
The warrants for which Ramirez was wanted were for being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, authorities said. His firearm was recovered at the location, they said.