The parents of a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police in 2016 reached a $200,000 settlement with the city in a lawsuit alleging their son was killed without provocation., the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.
The lawsuit by parents Josefina Rizo and Juan Méndez alleged wrongful death, civil rights violations and assault and battery after an autopsy revealed that their son, José Juan Méndez, was shot 13 times.
“The family was eager to put this horrible nightmare to an end and no amount of money could replace their son,” Attorney Arnoldo Casillas told the newspaper. “They wanted to close the matter and move forward with their lives.”
Méndez was driving on Lorena Street at around 10:45 PM on February 1st, 2016 when he was pulled over by police for driving a stolen vehicle. The teen was shot repeatedly after allegedly pointing a sawed-off shotgun at the two approaching officers, Josué Mérida and Jeremy Wagner.
Officer body camera footage, which was only turned on after the shooting, shows Méndez being dragged from the car for about 30 feet after being shot. Roughly 10 minutes after the shooting, the 16-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy report released by the LA County Coroner’s office found that Méndez suffered 19 gunshot wounds while he was still wearing a seatbelt (the report noted that a single gunshot can produce multiple wounds). The autopsy also found methamphetamine and amphetamine in the teen’s system when he was shot.
The lawsuit alleged that the officers involved in the shooting failed to follow LAPD protocol requiring a call for backup as well as an order for the suspect in question to exit the vehicle with hands up. The suit also maintained that no commands were issued to their son before officers ran towards the vehicle and opened fire.
Lawyers for the city argued that the teen was negligent and that the statute of limitations had expired on some claims in the suit. The L.A. County district attorney’s office had previously concluded that the two officers used lawful force in self-defense.
In a 2016 interview with the Boyle Heights Beat, Méndez and Rizo spoke about their son’s passion for football and how he was affected by drug use. José was one of two teens killed that year by police in Boyle Heights. In August of the same year, officers fatally shot 14-year-old Jesse Romero.