Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay out nearly $1 million to settle a wrongful death claim filed by the family of a 22- year-old Compton man fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy in 2012.

The deputy told investigators that he was on patrol in Bellflower around 2 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2012, when he spotted a man, later identified as Tony Francis, committing a robbery.

“(Francis) was hitting the victim in the face numerous times and stole an item from the victim,” a sheriff’s spokeswoman said when originally interviewed at the scene.

When Francis spotted the deputy, he ran. The deputy followed in his patrol car.

“Because the deputy sheriff was driving on a dirt/gravel driveway, he was unable to stop his patrol vehicle at the end of the road” and crashed into a cinderblock wall behind a business, according to a summary provided to the board.

Francis was standing at the wall, less than 15 feet away from the patrol car, and ignored repeated warnings to remove his hands from his waistband, according to the summary. “Fearing he was about to be shot by (Francis), the deputy sheriff discharged his department-issued duty weapon at (Francis), striking him.”

No gun was found. Francis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Family members filed suit, alleging that the deputy fired without reason and alleging civil rights violations. They said Francis had no history of violence.

Based on an investigation by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the District Attorney’s Office concluded that the deputy acted in self-defense.

An Internal Affairs Bureau investigation found that the tactics and force used by the deputy were within department policy, but also recommended training for the deputy, who completed the training in March of this year. No administrative action was taken against him.

County attorneys cited the risks of litigation in recommending a payment of $975,000 to Francis’s mother and daughter, who was 2 years old at the time her father was shot.

— City News Service

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