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Los Angeles County Pays $850,000 for Police Misconduct Death and $595,000 in Jail Medical-Related Death

Los Angeles County Pays $850,000 for Police Misconduct Death and $595,000 in Jail Medical-Related Death

Los Angeles County settled two lawsuits in July 2008 for a total of $1,445,000. Of that amount, $850,000 went to the survivors of a man shot to death by sheriff’s deputies following a car chase, and $595,000 was paid to the family of a woman who died from lack of medical care at the Los Angeles County jail.

On June 13, 2006, deputies killed 27-year-old Carl Williams after a high-speed chase through Walnut Park, California. Williams allegedly rammed a patrol car and then backed into it again. Six deputies responded and fired 70 rounds, killing him.

Although the deputies claimed that they felt threatened by Williams’ use of his car as a weapon, a different story emerged from accident reconstruction experts. The deputies’ version of the event “could not be substantiated,” and an expert testified that evidence collection methods used by sheriff’s investigators were flawed.

Accordingly, “due to the risks and uncertainties of litigation,” the county reached a settlement for $850,000. The county’s attorney fees and costs totaled over $243,000. See: Logan v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC 361 641.

In the second case, Heidi Verdekel, 29, died of complications from an epileptic seizure while she was incarcerated at the Twin Towers Los Angeles County jail. Although she was placed on anti-seizure medication, she had further seizures and was subsequently transferred to the county’s medical center. She developed an infection at the medical center and died three weeks later, on March 14, 2005.

A federal lawsuit filed by her parents alleged that due to Heidi’s known long history of seizures, it was deliberate indifference for jail staff not to have given her the same dosage of medication she was on prior to her arrest. Further, she should have been treated sooner and promptly taken to the hospital for earlier intervention. The parties settled the lawsuit for $595,000, and the county’s legal expenses exceeded $320,000.

Los Angeles County followed up by implementing a corrective action plan that provides specific training to jail staff on dealing with epileptics in custody. See: Verdekel v. County of Los Angeles, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.), Case No. CV 06-01518-JFW.

Additional source: Los Angeles Times

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Related legal cases

Logan v. County of Los Angeles

Verdekel v. County of Los Angeles