SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A $20 million claim was filed against the city Wednesday by the attorney of a 15-year-old boy who was mistakenly shot by police in South Los Angeles after one of his high school buddies was spotted with a replica handgun.
Attorney John Harris said police showed “callous disregard” for Jamar Nicholson, who was shot in the back at about 7:45 a.m. on Feb. 10 near Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue.
Jamar was unarmed.
“I have nightmares almost every night,” he said of being shot. “I don’t trust nobody, I’m paranoid, I don’t want to go downstairs.”
Jason Huerta, who was standing near Jamar the day of the shooting, has also joined the claim, but the student who had the toy gun and a fourth student have not.
The officer who shot Jamar was one of a group of criminal gang homicide officers in civilian clothes conducting an investigation in the area. Police said one officer called out to the youth carrying the replica weapon and ordered him to put it down, and when he didn’t, an officer fired, striking Jamar in the upper back.
“I heard one ‘freeze’ but ‘drop the gun’ – I didn’t hear none of that,” Jamar said.
Los Angeles Police Department officials declined to comment on the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.
In February, LAPD officials blamed the shooting on the existence of realistic replica weapons. Following the shooting, LAPD officials displayed realistic-looking replica weapons at a news conference and urged parents to prevent their children from carrying such toys.
A preliminary investigation by the department cleared the officers enough to allow them back on duty. The officer who fired the shot was identified by the Los Angeles Times a Miguel Gutierrez, who has been with the department since 2002.