A lawsuit filed by a man who says he was shot in the groin with a rubber bullet without provocation in 2020 during a mass protest in the Fairfax District over the death of George Floyd can be amended to add new facts and another officer as a defendant, a judge ruled Tuesday, while also giving the plaintiff a favorable ruling on a police personnel records issue.
Bradley Steyn’s original Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed in September 2020, alleging civil rights violations, assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On Tuesday, Judge Maurice A. Leiter granted a motion by Steyn’s attorneys to add new details to the negligence claim and add LAPD Officer Brandon Purece as a defendant.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers maintained in their court papers that they learned after filing the original suit new facts concerning the actions of Purece as well as information suggesting that the LAPD negligently dispatched insufficient personnel to the protest.
“The court finds amendment in the interests of justice,” the judge wrote.
The scheduled April 17 trial is several months away, so the city will not be prejudiced by the amendment, the judge further concluded.
In a separate motion, the judge granted the first step the plaintiffs attorneys needed to overcome in order to review the personnel records of Purece, officer Jeffrey Rivera and one other officer. Leiter will review the records in chambers at a decide which ones must be turned over to Steyn’s lawyers.
“These records are plainly relevant and discoverable,” Leiter wrote. “(The city’s) attempts at arguing otherwise are not persuasive.”
The LAPD had already filed a motion to dismiss the original suit in which city lawyers allege Steyn kicked an officer to the ground in front of what the plaintiff called an “ignited” crowd of thousands of people, and that Purece and Rivera used reasonable force to stop the plaintiff’s “uncontrolled aggression and unjustified assault” on a third officer, according to the defense’s court papers.
Steyn’s kick of the officer was so hard that the officer fell, his pistol magazine fell out of his vest and he was injured in the stomach, shoulder and elbow, the city’s attorneys state in their court papers.
Steyn is about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs about 240 pounds, the defense lawyers state in their court papers.
In deciding to fire, Purece saw that Steyn “had already shown a propensity to assault an officer” and the plaintiff appeared to be moving toward the fallen officer to continue his assault or to penetrate the skirmish line, according to the city’s attorney’s court papers.
Steyn was shot while taking part in a May 30, 2020, protest, one of many throughout the country in the wake of the in-custody death five days earlier of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis.
At no time before Steyn was shot did he hear any officer issue a lawful dispersal order, provide time for demonstrators to disperse, warn the crowd that less-lethal firearms would be deployed if protesters did not disperse or provide any direct orders to the plaintiff, according to his court papers.
“The beating and the LAPD’s brutality against unarmed civilians inevitably summoned the memory of George Floyd,” Steyn’s court papers state.
Steyn’s amended complaint was filed Tuesday. Rivera remains a defendant in the case along with the city and now Purece, but a third officer named in the original complaint is no longer a defendant.