Attorneys for the father of a man shot to death by Los Angeles police in Pacoima urged a jury today to award millions of dollars in damages, but a lawyer for the city said the officer who fired the fatal shot did so in self-defense and complied with LAPD policy.
The different viewpoints regarding the shooting of 26-year-old Christian Eaddy were given as the lawyers on both sides gave their final arguments in trial of his father’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against the city, which alleges negligence and civil rights violations.
The shooting happened about 2:15 p.m. May 16, 2013, in the 13000 block of Corcoran Street after officers responded to a report of a man with two knives and syringes threatening to kill himself, Los Angeles police Sgt. Susie Padilla said at the time. Christian Eaddy later died at a hospital.
Attorneys for Greg Eaddy maintain that his son’s life could have been spared had Officers Christopher Carr and Fernando Avila showed better judgment and made sound tactical decisions, such as waiting for other officers already on their way to the scene.
They say Christian Eaddy had placed the two knives in a shopping cart in the driveway of his home before Carr shot him. Prior to the shooting, Avila fired a stun gun at the young man, plaintiff’s attorney Robert Brown said.
“If I was to call this case something, I would call it death in 40 seconds,” Brown said.
Carr is white and Christian Eaddy was black, but neither side maintains the shooting was racially motivated.
Brown’s co-counsel, John Taylor, said Avila and Carr were backup officers to the patrol unit that received a 911 call from Eaddy’s family that he was displaying suicidal behavior, but that the pair arrived first.
Avila and Car made “cascading tactical decisions” from the time they arrived that displayed a “cynical approach that permeates the culture of the LAPD,” according to the plaintiff’s legal team.
“This is a trial about accountability,” Taylor said. “The LAPD has trouble accepting accountability when they do things wrong.”
Avila made the situation worse by calling for even more help, making it appear to Carr that the situation was worse than it actually was, Taylor said.
Carr originally armed himself with a beanbag gun, but dropped it in favor of his firearm, Taylor said.
But Deputy City Attorney J. Edwin Rathbun said Carr used justifiable deadly force because Christian Eaddy was charging at him with both knives and the officers wanted to protect everyone present, including the Eaddy family members
“The officers handled the situation exactly as they were trained to do,” Rathbun said. “That’s what we want our police officers to do.”
Lawyers on both sides played the 911 call that an Eaddy relative made before the officers arrived. Rathbun used sound only and no transcript, saying it put a different perspective on the situation the officers faced.
But Brown said the trajectory of the lone bullet that struck Christian Eaddy showed the more plausible explanation was that he was complying with the demands of Avila and Carr by putting the knives into the shopping cart, then attempting to lie on the ground when Carr opened fire.
Brown said it made no sense for Carr to have originally considered using the beanbag gun if he really thought his life and those of the others present were in danger.
Greg Eaddy, who filed suit in January 2014, has suffered “a hole in his life” since losing his son, Brown said.
Displaying a large photo of a smiling Christian Eaddy on a screen, the attorney said, “There’s Christian Eaddy. We ask for justice on his behalf.”
Christian Eaddy’s mother, Iola Propps, also was a plaintiff, but she died last year. Before the trial began, Greg Eaddy’s attorneys dropped Carr as a defendant.
–City News Service
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