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Jury Awards $3.2M To Family Of Gang Member Who Died In LAPD Custody

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A civil jury has awarded $3.2 million to the family of a 31-year-old gang member who died in police custody.

The award for damages in the wrongful death lawsuit was divided among Mauricio Cornejo’s estate and his three surviving minor children. One child received $1.5 million and the other two received $400,000 each, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cornejo collapsed in a holding cell at the Hollenbeck police station following a “knock-down, drag-out” fight with officers and a foot chase at the Ramona Gardens project in Boyle Heights.

Cornejo was a wanted parolee described by police as a known gang member.

During the trial, the Los Angeles County City Attorney’s office argued that the county coroner’s report showed Cornejo died from the physical strain of resisting officers as well as the effects of drug intoxication, including methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the Times.

Ronald O’Halloran, the chief medical examiner for Ventura County, testified for Cornejo’s family that the force used by the officers, including baton blows to Cornejo’s back and midsection, was the cause of his death. A retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant, Roger Clark, also testified that the officers used unreasonable force and failed to promptly seek medical treatment for Cornejo, the Times reported.

The LAPD issued a statement Tuesday, saying it respectfully disagreed with the jury’s decision.

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