Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Saturday said he was disappointed in the more than $5.7 million jury award to an attempted murder convict who was shot by police and paralyzed during the man’s arrest more than seven years ago.
A jury on Friday awarded the verdict to Robert Contreras for injuries he received after being shot by Los Angeles police in 2005 in South Los Angeles.
“Tragically for the people of Los Angeles, important facts were not allowed into evidence in this case," said Beck said in a statement. "Had the jury been permitted to hear all the facts, I am sure the outcome would have been quite different. I urge the City Attorney’s Office to pursue an appeal in this case.”
Contreras’ attorney, Dale Galipo, could not immediately be reached for comment. But he told the Los Angeles Times in an article on Friday he was pleased with the jury's decision.
"It's still a significant amount of money," he told The Times. "We asked for more, but, remember, I would have settled this case for less."
The Los Angeles City Council rejected in March a settlement proposal of $1.2 million, saying the officers did no wrong, according to the Los Angeles Times.
An internal affairs investigation into the shooting found the officers to be in policy and their actions reasonable under the circumstances, Beck said.
Police said Contreras was running from a vehicle that he and his companions used to commit a drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles Sept. 3, 2005. Police fired when they said he turned toward them holding an object in his hand that turned out to be a cellphone. Police never found a weapon, The Times reported.
Beck said the jury was not allowed to hear key evidence during the trial. He said Contreras, a known gang member, pleaded no contest to attempted murder for his involvement in the drive-by shooting that occurred prior to him being shot by police.
Beck said his cellmate told investigators he had a gun and another suspect told police that all of the occupants in the drive-by van had guns.
Beck added that expert testimony on police tactics and psychological responses “would have demonstrated the reasonableness of the officers' actions.”
“The Los Angeles Police Department stands by the actions of our police officers in this case,” he said.