Los Angeles

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Unprecedented LAPD Helicopter Shooting of Barricade Suspect

One officer fired as many as 14 rounds and at least 40 rounds were fired during the standoff

The mother of a man who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers, including from a police helicopter during a barricade last year, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the department and the city.

Shirley Ann Soderberg said her son, Anthony, was unarmed, suffered from mental health issues, and was not a threat when he was shot by police on May 8, 2017. Police came out to a home in Sunland after the homeowner saw him "aimlessly walking" in the kitchen and asking for food and "for some cookies," the lawsuit said.

"It wasn't fair because he came out with his hands up," Shirley Soderberg said, days after filing her wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles. "They just annihilated him. They shot him till he was dead."

Anthony Soderberg was shot during an hourslong barricade, after officers fired tear gas into the home to force him out. When he emerged, he was "crawling, struggling, gasping for air, and unarmed," the lawsuit said.

Once outside, he was "unjustifiably shot" by officers, including by one from a police helicopter circling overhead, the first time the department authorized such a tactic.

Shirley Soderberg spoke after the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD, found that a dozen officers acted outside of department policy when they opened fire on her son.

In their report, police said they had reason to believe he was armed and had even fired at them.

But Soderberg's mother and her attorney dispute police accounts.

Her attorney, Greg Kirakosian, said he believes it would be difficult to presume someone's "armed and dangerous" from hundreds of feet away.

"It's also difficult to see if somebody is armed," he said.

The LAPD declined to comment.

But the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, said Soderberg had fired at the helicopter and put officers onboard at risk.

They said officers should be getting a "thank you" from the commission instead of a "rebuke."

The commission's findings were at odds with police Chief Charlie Beck, who had determined that all aspects of the shooting were consistent with LAPD policy.

Beck said Soderberg's actions "presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury," and that the use of lethal force would be "objectively" reasonable.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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