The sons of a man who was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies after he stabbed an elderly woman sued Los Angeles County and two deputies Monday for wrongful death, alleging in federal court that the use of deadly force was “excessive and unreasonable.”
According to the complaint, Charles Towns, 47, of Pasadena, was having a mental health episode around 5:15 p.m. Jan. 22 when multiple Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the area of Woodbury Road and Fair Oaks Avenue in Altadena for a report of a male threatening people with a metal object.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Carlos Towns and his 17-year-old brother, contends that deputies watched as Towns walked into a residential area toward unsuspecting civilians.
An LASD report stated that Towns then stabbed an elderly woman in the face with scissors, and attempted to stab another person when the shooting occurred. At that point, LASD Deputy Eliezer Morales opened fire and Towns fell to the ground, but he “got up, and advanced toward deputy personnel as the shooting continued,” the report alleged.
The second defendant officer, LASD Deputy Clarissa Prentice, allegedly shot Towns with gunfire that “penetrated Mr. Towns’ abdomen area from top to bottom, traveled just underneath his skin and exited his groin,” according to the lawsuit.
“This incident has been tragic for everyone involved,” according to a statement provided by LASD.
Video footage and a summary of the shooting can be found on the LASD’s website at LASD.org, under “deputy-involved shootings.”
The plaintiffs allege that as he was being shot, Towns was ordered by Morales “not to move,” but when his body reacted to being hit with gunfire, “Morales resumed shooting.” Prentice continued shooting at near point blank range, and Morales “literally had to push her gun down to stop her from shooting more,” the suit alleges.
The complaint contends that the deputies shot Towns “although his empty hands were clearly visible on both body-cam footages. Both deputies executed him.”
Towns died at the scene, according to LASD.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants, including Sheriff Robert Luna and former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, for allegedly violating Towns’ civil rights in connection with the fatal use force.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the case for potential criminal liability, according to the agency’s website.