Family of Man Killed by Deputies Files Lawsuit Against LA County, Sheriff's Department

Cell phone video shows part of incident outside a Lakewood home

The family of a mentally-ill man fatally shot by deputies last month filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the Sheriff's Department over his death outside of a Lakewood home.

The family also said a cellphone video released Monday, which showed a portion of the incident, contradicts the sheriff's department's statements that John Berry engaged in erratic behavior and was a threat. The family is suing and also seeking policy changes in memorial of the 29-year-old man.

"No one should be treated that way, whether they had mental problems or not. I think that everybody needs to be respected," said Susan Berry, the victim's mother.

The shooting occurred July 6 when deputies were called to the family's Lakewood residence by Berry's brother, who said he suspected Berry may not have been on his medication at the time.

Deputies arrived and found Berry in his a car. Deputies said Berry attempted to drive his vehicle directly into the deputies' patrol car. The deputies attempted to remove Berry using nonlethal means, including pepper spray, stun guns and batons, but none worked. At some point, they said Berry attempted to back up his car and had one of the deputies pinned and was crushing his leg. Deputies then fired several rounds, fatally wounding Berry inside of his car.

The family hired an attorney, Steven Carlson, to represent them in their lawsuit.

"They called the LA Sheriff's Department for help. The sheriff's department came out and within five minutes of that call for help, the people they called shot and killed John Berry," he said.

The sheriff's department issued a statement, saying in part that the investigation into the incident was ongoing. In addition, the department was in possession of the video, which is included in the investigation. The department said that while the video only shows a portion of the incident, it is consistent with information developed during the investigation.

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