A legally blind Black man who alleges police officers tackled and beat him outside his South Los Angeles home and then further abused him after taking him to a hospital for medical care has tentatively settled civil rights claims against the city, according to court papers obtained Saturday.
Michael Moore, 63, alleges that while he lay strapped to a gurney unable to move and surrounded by hospital guards and Los Angeles Police Department personnel, an LAPD officer held a towel over his mouth and nose until he passed out, according to the suit filed last year in Los Angeles federal court.
Details of the settlement were not disclosed. A notification filed with the court said the lawsuit was tentatively settled in its entirety on Nov. 11, following mediation sessions. Because the settlement is contingent on approval by the city’s claims board, budget and finance committee, city council, and mayor, it may take several months to be finalized, lawyers for both sides said.
The complaint sought unspecified punitive damages under claims including unreasonable search, unlawful seizure, excessive force, failure to intervene, battery and negligence. It names as defendants the city of Los Angeles and various LAPD officers.
The lawsuit alleges Moore — who has a history of mental illness — was arrested in February 2019 after officers misread actions caused by his disabilities as criminal activity when they came to his apartment following a medical aid call.
Moore was charged with multiple counts of assaulting a peace officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon and resisting an officer, and spent more than four months in jail awaiting trial. A downtown Los Angeles jury acquitted him in July 2019 of all charges, according to his attorneys.
The incident at the hospital while Moore was strapped to a gurney was captured on body camera footage from an officer at the scene.
Moore’s attorney said his client can be heard on tape crying out “I can’t breathe!” at least three times.
Moore remains “deeply traumatized” due to the alleged assault and is unable to sleep, is afraid to go outside and “lives in constant fear of the police,” according to his attorneys.
“Police officers are sworn to serve and protect, not torture and abuse,” Brian Olney, one of Moore’s lawyers, said when the lawsuit was filed in April 2020. “The officers’ own video plainly shows an LAPD officer suffocating Mr. Moore while he lies immobilized on a hospital gurney. This conduct is sickening and outrageous.”