L.A. County Pay $5 million to Settle Lawsuits in Two Shootings by Sheriff’s Deputies


Expensive payouts stemming from shootings by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies continue to climb, with the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approving nearly $5 million for the families of two men shot by deputies in separate incidents.

In both 2014 incidents, deputies’ gunfire killed people — and wounded unintended victims.

Jose Hernandez, the victim of a knife attack, was mistakenly shot in the leg as lawmen fired 34 shots at another man wielding a blade. In the other case, Noel Aguilar was shot and killed just after a deputy inadvertently shot his fellow officer in the stomach as they struggled to hold Aguilar face-down on the ground.

The payments — $2 million to Hernandez and his son and $2.97 million to Aguilar’s family — come at a time of soaring deputy-related litigation costs at taxpayers’ expense. Last fiscal year, payouts to resolve legal claims tied to law enforcement actions cost the county nearly $51 million, a 65% jump from the previous year.

The expenditures have climbed steadily over the last few years. In the fiscal year that ended in 2012, law enforcement-related payouts were $5.6 million.

Aguilar was riding his bicycle in Long Beach on May 26, 2014, when he glanced at uniformed deputies and quickly pedaled away. Deputies Albert Murad and Jose Ruiz, who later told investigators they believed Aguilar was carrying a gun, chased the 23-year-old and wrestled him to the ground, handcuffing one of his wrists, according to a memorandum filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Early on in the struggle, Murad retrieved a loaded firearm from Aguilar, the memo said. But moments later, according to the memo, Ruiz believed Aguilar was reaching for a gun, and he fired at the young man’s belly. Ruiz hit his fellow deputy instead. As the lawmen continued to restrain Aguilar, the young man reached for Ruiz’s gun and was fatally shot by both deputies, the memo said.

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