The family of the Transportation Security Administration officer who died in a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last year is suing the city, alleging his death could have been avoided.
The lawsuit, alleging negligence and other causes of action, was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Ana Machuca, the widow of TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez, and their two children, Luis G. Hernandez and Stephanie M. Hernandez.
The suit seeks unspecified damages. In April the family filed a $25 million damages claim against the city.
A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached.
Hernandez was shot to death and three other people — including two other TSA officers — were wounded when a gunman opened fire Nov. 1, 2013, inside Terminal 3 at LAX.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, a New Jersey native who had been living in Sun Valley, has been charged in federal court with murder and other counts.
The lawsuit alleges Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, and airport police, who are in charge of security, of not keeping airport travelers and employees safe.
“Police officers were not present to stop Ciancia or protect Hernandez (because) the officers left their assigned posts without reporting in or calling for backup officers,” the suit states. “Ciancia was able to freely walk about, go up an escalator, return to the checkpoint and shoot Hernandez … because inadequate security was present at the terminal.”
The suit also alleges that it took too long for aid to be provided to Hernandez.
“Hernandez lay wounded … without medical attention for more than 30 minutes,” the suit states. “Hernandez was in immediate need of medical attention.”
The suit also alleges the airport failed to enhance security as recommended by the global policy think tank RAND Corp. in 2004 and 2006 and that 911 “red phones” at the airport were “outdated and in some instances were not working properly.”
The complaint further alleges that airport police did not take part in anti-terrorist committees and task forces with other police agencies and that this omission “impacted prevention and alignment of resources.”
In March, an 83-page city-commissioned report on the shooting was released, and it pointed out failures in communication and coordination between police and fire departments that led to delays in the establishment of a unified command center after the shooting. The various agencies also could not effectively communicate due to incompatible radio systems, the report found.
The report made dozens of recommendations aimed at bolstering security and emergency response, and warned that the Nov. 1 shooting could have been far deadlier if the perpetrator had been more sophisticated or if there had been multiple suspects.
— Staff and wire reports