Jurors on Wednesday found a Los Angeles police officer was not liable for a Boyle Heights shooting in 2016 that left one man dead.
The jury rejected a wrongful death claim in the case of 36-year-old Omar González, whose sons sued the city after their father was shot to death by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Eden Medina.
The suit was filed in 2017 on behalf of 18-year-old Omar González Jr. and his 15-year-old brother, after prosecutors declined to file charges against Medina, who also fatally shot 14-year-old Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights 12 days after shooting González. The Romero family also sued the city and lost, though the case is currently on appeal.
“All 12 jurors rejected the wrongful death claims of the lawsuit,” said Marisol Márquez, a member of community organization Centro CSO which has protested the outcome in both cases. They bought the lies and sided with two-time killer cop Eden Medina … We will not stop demanding justice for all the lives LAPD has stolen in Boyle Heights.”
Medina testified at the trial that he pursued González on July 28, 2016 after suspecting that he was riding in a stolen car, according to MyNewsLA. After cornering him on the 1200 block of Atwood Place, Medina shot González twice in the back, testifying that he saw González had a gun and feared for his life — though he did not know if González was aiming the gun at him or any other officers.
A video of the shooting released in November shows that González was pushed up against a fence during the struggle, and after he was shot at close range, an officer reached behind the fence and pulled out a gun. González family attorney Kent Henderson said this was clear evidence that González did not have a gun in his hands at the time he was shot, indicating that Medina used excessive force.
“The clear video evidence shows the gun was behind the fence when he was shot,” Henderson said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Henderson recommended that each brother be awarded $8 million, according to MyNewsLA, but the city argued that Medina acted reasonably given the circumstances and felt that shooting González was the only way to prevent death or severe bodily harm.
The González family is exploring options for an appeal, Henderson said, calling the outcome “an injustice.”
“He didn’t deserve the death penalty for running from the police or for not immediately obeying commands,” Henderson said. “We depend on a jury after the fact to try to bring some kind of justice, and in this case they didn’t.”
He added that the jury was not allowed to hear of Medina’s involvement in the Jesse Romero case, even though the two showed similar patterns.
Photo: People gather on August 9, 2018 at site where Jesse Romero was killed by LAPD officer Eden Medina 12 days after González was shot. By Antonio Mejías-Rentas.