COMPTON (CBSLA.com) — A jury Friday awarded $7.5 million to the parents of a 21-year-old man killed in a deputy-involved shooting in Willowbrook more than two years ago.
The panel of seven men and five women deliberated for about 2 and a half days before deciding in favor of Robert Thomas Sr. and Barbara Massey.
The couple’s son, Robert Thomas Jr., was struck by gunfire at approximately 10:17 p.m. Nov. 8, 2010, near East 123rd Street and Wilmington Avenue.
After the shooting, Thomas Sr. told the media that his son was shot in the back.
“They chased my son down and shot him…in the back. They killed my son, man,” he said.
In 2010, Los Angeles sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dave Dolson said that deputies saw Thomas acting suspiciously at a party and attempted to speak with him, but he fled the area.
“They gave chase. Ultimately, the individual reached for a handgun that was in his pocket, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred. The individual was transported to a local hospital, where he later died,” said Dolson.
John Sweeney, the victim’s parents’ attorney, said the jury denied the allegation that Thomas had a weapon.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department disagrees with the verdict and will appeal. He said Thomas was in possession of a gun at the time of the incident.
“This is by no means over,” he said.
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