Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 2:45 a.m
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A federal jury awarded $13.5 million to the family of a man who died just days after two Los Angeles police officers leaned their body weight on his back to restrain him, the plaintiff’s lawyers said Monday.
A jury in downtown Los Angeles made its decision Friday, finding that the officers used excessive force against 50-year-old Jacobo Cedillo, violating his constitutional rights. The jury also found that the city of Los Angeles did not adequately train officers.
Cedillo’s daughter, Nicole Juarez Zelaya, sued the city in 2020 over civil rights violations, inadequate training and other allegations.
The trial ended with the jury finding that the officers used excessive and unreasonable force.
Friday’s ruling included a finding that the city “failed to train its police officers on the risks of positional and restraint asphyxiation,” Zelaya’s lawyers said in a statement. Attorney Dale K. Galipo said he hoped such verdicts would alert police.
Bodycam video of the April 2019 incident was also made available to the media for the first time on Monday.
It showed officers walking up to Cedillo and handcuffing him as he sat in the driveway of a gas station in Van Nuys.
Authorities said officers suspected Cedillo was under the influence of an unknown drug. The situation escalated when officers attempted to get Cedillo into a patrol car.
Galipo said officers took Cedillo to the ground and began laying on him for about 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
“He was eventually awakened by the paramedics and within two seconds they placed him back on his stomach using their full body weight for 2 minutes and 46 seconds, which ultimately resulted in his death,” Galipo said.
Zelaya said she was grateful the jury found the LAPD responsible for her father’s death. She added that her father was stripped of his dignity when he was killed.
When reached for comment, the LAPD said it does not comment on pending litigation or the outcome of such litigation.
The LAPD determined the officers did not violate department rules, the plaintiffs said.
The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.
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