LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An attorney for a San Fernando Valley man killed by police after a freeway pursuit on Tuesday defended a lawsuit brought by the victim’s family.
The family of Abdul Arian is suing the LAPD after he was shot as many as 90 times at the end of a high-speed chase last week on the 101 freeway.
Attorney Jeffrey Galen told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the family has a legitimate wrongful death claim against the department.
“If you look at the video, once Arian was stopped, when the police were at their closest point to him, it was clear that he had both hands outstretched and he was holding a cell phone in his hand,” said Galen.
The claim equates to $1 million per bullet after investigators determined that Arian was shot by approximately 120 rounds by eight police officers.
Arian reportedly told 911 dispatchers during the pursuit that “if they pull their guns, I’m gonna have to pull my gun out on them”, according to a partial transcript.
However, Galen contends that since the freeway was lit up “like a football field” because of overhead news helicopters, officers could not have possibly mistaken the object Arian held up in their direction.
“I don’t know about you, but I can clearly tell the difference between a handgun and a cell phone,” said Galen. “He was showing the officers he had a cell phone.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told KNX 1070′s John Brooks that the investigation into the officers’ response is ongoing.
“I don’t draw conclusions until I get to see what the officers had to say about their use of deadly force, which I haven’t done yet,” said Beck.
While acknowledging that the filing of the lawsuit “severely limits” his ability to discuss the specifics of the case, Beck also said he will consider releasing the 911 tape where the young man reportedly told the officer he had a gun.
While Galen conceded that Arian was wrong to flee from the police, he cited the “improper use of police force” and the amount of firepower used against the unarmed 19-year-old.
Despite Galen’s claims, CBS2 legal analyst Steve Meister dismissed any chance for legal action against the LAPD to move forward.
“This lawsuit is rubbish is my reaction, it’s ridiculous, it’s frivolous, it shouldn’t be brought,” said Meister. “I think it’ll either be tossed out or a jury will find against this silly theory of liability.”
A funeral service for Arian was held Tuesday afternoon at Pierce Brothers Valhalla in North Hollywood.