LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The parents of a 19-year-old Winnetka man who was fatally shot by police following a late-night chase through the San Fernando Valley filed a $120 million federal lawsuit Monday against the city and Los Angeles Police Department.
Abdul Arian was shot several of times by Los Angeles police around 10 p.m. April 11 after he led officers on a high-speed pursuit that ended on the Ventura (101) Freeway near Woodland Hills. According to the LAPD, Arian called 911 during the pursuit, which began after he ran a red light, and told a dispatcher he was armed and prepared to shoot officers.
“Not even a single shot in this case was justified,” Arian family lawyer Jeffrey M. Galen said at a news conference outside the downtown federal courthouse.
An LAPD representative said the department does not comment on pending lawsuits according to policy.
The complaint alleging civil rights violations and wrongful death seeks unspecified punitive damages and at least $120 million in general damages, plus unspecified medical and burial costs and legal fees.
Galen said that if the case goes to trial, he would show a jury “enhanced videotapes” proving that police never felt threatened by Arian.
The attorney repeated earlier allegations by the family that officers displayed massively excessive force, firing more than 120 rounds at Arian after he got out of his car on the freeway and ran.
Although Arian was not armed and carrying only a cell phone, video shot by news crews showed him getting out of his car at the end of the pursuit and taking a shooting-type stance toward pursuing officers just before they opened fire.
Calling it “one of the most horrific cases of excessive force” seen in Los Angeles in more than 25 years, Galen said Arian “was running for his life” when he was killed.
According to police, Arian had told a 911 dispatcher during the pursuit: “I have a gun. I’ve been arrested before for possession of destructive devices, I’m not afraid of the cops. … If they pull their guns, I’m gonna have to pull my gun out on them.”
Galen said officers could have used non-lethal force to subdue Arian, who, according to the autopsy report, had neither alcohol nor drugs in his system.
“If the officers were in such fear of their lives which they claim, appropriate protocol and policy would be to take cover,” Galen said. “It doesn’t make sense that they would risk their own lives by aggressively charging a suspect.”
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, said the shooting was regrettable, but Arian triggered it.
“It is unfortunate that our society has come to the place where a lawful command from an officer goes ignored. Oftentimes, this sets into motion a regrettable series of events, as in this case,” Izen said.
“When a person decides to engage officers in a pursuit, refuses police orders to end the threat they are posing to the safety of officers and the public, tells the police that they have a gun, exits a vehicle and takes an aggressive shooting stance, extends their arms out and points an unknown object at the officers, they are subjecting themselves to the consequences of their actions, which may include being shot.”
Arian, an immigrant from Afghanistan, had been enrolled in the LAPD’s Explorer Academy, which teaches teens about careers in law enforcement, but he was removed for “disciplinary reasons” in October 2009, according to the LAPD.
Galen said Monday that the teen, who wanted to be a “party planner” but otherwise did not have a job, was discharged from the program for being late too often.
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