A teenager paralyzed in a police shooting two years ago has been awarded a $24 million verdict, but he shook his head Monday when asked about the money.
"The money is nothing in life," said Rohayent Gomez-Eriza. "It helps, but it's not the important thing."
Gomez-Eriza, who goes by Ryan, was 13 years old when he was paralyzed from the chest down in a shooting involving the LAPD in Glassell Park in December 2010.
A bullet hit his left shoulder and traveled down his spine, shattering the vertebrae in his upper chest.
"Every time I go to school, I see my friends running, walking, playing soccer, what I used to do," Gomez-Eriza said. "Can't do that any more. It's sad."
On the night of the shooting, Gomez-Eriza, now 15, had been playing cops and robbers with his friends. The officer who fired the shot said the replica gun the child was carrying looked just look a real weapon.
"When our officers are confronted with a realistic replica weapon in the field, they have to react in a split second to the perceived threat. If our officers delay or don't respond to armed suspects, it could cost them their lives," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement.
This $24 million verdict is believed to be the largest amount the LAPD has ever awarded involving a wrongful shooting. Of that money, $14 million will go to pay Gomez-Eriza's medical bills. The other $10 million was awarded for emotional suffering.