A chest surgeon deserves up to $6 million in damages to compensate him for income lost when Los Angeles police officers used unreasonable force in taking him into custody at his Brentwood home in 2014, an attorney told a jury Wednesday.
Addressing a Los Angeles Superior Court panel hearing final arguments in trial of Dr. Michael Richman’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, lawyer Dale Galipo said the facts of the case are not complex.
“The case is about whether he was injured and whether he was taken to the ground,” Galipo said.
The attorney said the officers’ alleged actions caused Richman, now 53, to seriously hurt his left wrist trying to break his fall in the early morning of Aug. 26, 2014, preventing him from ever performing surgery again. Richman also maintains he was roughly handcuffed.
Deputy City Attorney Geoffrey Plowden will present his final argument Thursday. He has argued that officers patiently waited nearly two hours before the doctor complied with demands to come out of his residence. He said Richman was never taken to the ground and that his only complaint to officers was that his handcuffs were too tight, prompting them to replace the metal cuffs with a plastic version.
Galipo said the officers went to Richman’s home after the doctor’s ex-girlfriend made a 911 call and falsely told the LAPD the surgeon was thinking of suicide.
LAPD officers testified they directed Richman to come out of the house and that he left and went back inside twice before coming out for good the third and final time. Galipo said Richman acted reasonably because he was rightly concerned for his safety.
“Just imagine six or 10 guns being pointed at you,” Galipo said. “It’s got to be scary.”
Galipo said comedian Bob Saget, an independent witness, said he also saw police bringing Richman to the ground, although the attorney acknowledged that Saget said the takedown of his neighbor was not violent.
“It didn’t look like a tackle to the ground to him (Saget),” Galipo said.
Galipo said that in addition to nearly $6 million in lost wages, Richman is entitled to damages for his emotional distress. He left that amount up to jurors.
Richman has tried to move on with his life by going back to school and training for life without surgery, Galipo said.
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