Relatives of a Silver Lake Trader Joe’s assistant manager who was killed by a police bullet when an armed suspect fled into the store following a pursuit in July filed claims for damages Thursday against the Los Angeles Police Department.
Attorneys for the father and brother of Melyda “Mely” Corado said the claims — precursors to a lawsuit — allege civil rights violations, battery, excessive force, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, failure to adequately train officers and conspiracy to cover-up wrongful misconduct. It was unclear how much money the family is seeking.
A spokesman for the LAPD said the department does not comment on litigation matters. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the City Attorney’s Office.
Corado, 27, was killed July 21. Police said she was struck by a bullet fired by an officer toward Gene Evin Atkins, 28, who had led police on a chase from Hollywood to Silver Lake, allegedly after shooting his grandmother and a teenage girl in South Los Angeles that morning. Atkins crashed his grandmother’s car in front of the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s store and ran inside, allegedly while firing at pursuing police. Corado was struck by a police bullet when she walked to the front of the store, police said previously.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said after the shooting that his officers were under fire from Atkins, and he said they did “what they needed to do in order to defend the people of Los Angeles and defend the people in that store and defend themselves.”
Moore, who apologized to the Corado family after learning she was struck by an officer’s bullet, called the shooting “every officer’s worst nightmare, to harm an innocent bystander during a violent engagement.”
Atkins holed up inside the store for about three hours, with dozens of customers and employees still inside the store, before surrendering peacefully.
Attorneys for the Corado family last month criticized the LAPD for releasing edited dash-cam and body-camera footage of the shooting in what they deemed an orchestrated effort to frame the events leading to her death in support of the officer’s actions. They said they want to see the complete, unedited video footage.
“The city has left the Corado family no option but to file these claims,” attorney John C. Taylor said in a statement Thursday. “The city is inviting a lawsuit through its failure to cooperate.”
Attorney Ron Rosengarten, also representing the Corado family, added, “The LAPD has repeatedly been given the chance to cooperate, as they said they would. Sadly, they are still withholding information that can provide crucial answers in what appears to be a tactic to cover up wrongful misconduct.”
The damages claims were filed on behalf Corado’s father, Salvador Albert Corado, and brother, Albert Corado.
When it released additional video footage last month, the LAPD issued a statement saying the materials were being made public to provide context to the deadly shootout, but some video was being withheld to preserve the integrity of ongoing investigations into Corado’s death.
“We will never fully be able to understand how painful this tragic incident has been for the Corado family, and the Los Angeles Police Department joins in the mourning of her loss,” the LAPD’s September statement read. “The department demonstrated its commitment to transparency when it released portions of digital in-car and body-worn video of the officer-involved shooting a little over 48 hours after the incident.”
The statement noted that “there is both a criminal and administrative investigation that precludes us from providing any more video evidence at this time.”
Atkins has been charged with more than 50 felony counts, including murder for Corado’s death, even though he did not fire the shot that killed her. He was charged under the theory that he set off the chain of events leading to her death.
Atkins allegedly shot his 76-year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, as many as seven times and shot a 17-year-old girl around 1:30 p.m. July 21 at his grandmother’s South Los Angeles home in the 1600 block of East 32nd Street. He then allegedly kidnapped the teenager and drove off in his grandmother’s 2015 Toyota Camry. Police spotted him in Hollywood, sparking the chase in which Atkins fired shots at pursuing officers through the rear window of the Camry, according to Moore. A short time later, Atkins crashed into a light pole outside the Trader Joe’s in the 2700 block of Hyperion Avenue, leading to the gunfire and standoff at the store.
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