LA City Council Meeting - Photo courtesy of LACC livestream

The Los Angeles City Council approved $300,000 to settle a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department filed by a legally blind man who sued the department and several of its officers for allegedly using excessive force and violating his civil rights.

Michael Moore alleged 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 in April 2020 in Los Angeles federal court.

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 was 62 years old at the time and 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,” his attorneys said in 2020.

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