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$40,000 To Settle Excessive Force Claim At Los Angeles County Jail

In September, 2004, the Los Angeles County Claims Board (Board) agreed
to pay $40,000 to settle an excessive force claim brought by a prisoner injured at the L.A. County Main Jail.

On March 17, 2002, prisoner Joseph Amezola was protectively housed in the 2500 Module of the Main Jail because he was known to have a “hit” authorized against him by the Mexican Mafi a. When released from his cell to shower, he bolted out of the module, ignoring orders to stop, and went downstairs towards the shower in 2800 Module instead. After ignoring another order to stop, Sheriff’s deputies tackled Amezola around the waist, whereupon his forehead struck a steel shower door frame. He continued to resist, but was finally subdued and handcuffed. His injuries were listed as a bloody nose, contusions, cuts, bumps and abrasions to his head, shoulders, back and legs were tended to at the clinic over three days. When subsequently transferred to state prison in Chino, he made no requests for further treatment.

Two years later, when Amezola was again in state prison, he began complaining of frequent headaches and occasional seizures, which he attributed to his former jail head injuries. A June 10, 2004 civil rights suit trial date in Superior Court was stayed pending possible settlement. County counsel estimated to the Board an exposure of $225,000, consisting of $25,000 future medical expenses, $100,000 emotional damages and $100,000 in attorney fees. Counsel opined that in spite of Amezola’s obvious contribution to his own plight, available witness testimony stating that deputies continued to strike Amezola after he was subdued might convince a jury that deputies violated Amezola’s civil rights. A settlement of $40,000 for damages, costs and attorney fees was authorized. See: Amezola v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 291633.

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Related legal case

Amezola v. County of Los Angeles

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