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LAPD chief wants jury to appeal $5.7M award to felon shot, paralyzed by cops

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is shown in this undated file photo.

September 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is asking the city to appeal a jury's decision that awarded $5.7 million to a man who was shot by police and left paralyzed.

Robert Contreras was a 19-year-old convicted felon when he was shot by police in 2005 as he fled the scene of a drive-by shooting. He allegedly turned toward officers with what they believed was a gun, but it turned out to be a cellphone.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Beck recommended the appeal, because he feels the outcome might be different if the jury had heard key evidence in the case - that was not allowed to be heard before.

In a statement released Saturday, Beck said he was disappointed by the jury's award in the case.

"Tragically for the people of Los Angeles, important facts were not allowed into evidence in this case. Had the jury been permitted to hear all the facts, I am sure the outcome would have been quite different. I urge the City Attorney's Office to pursue an appeal in this case," Beck said in the statement.

The statement included the following list of items the jury was not allowed to hear during the trial:

  • Plaintiff was a known gang member
  • Plaintiff pled no contest to attempted murder for his involvement in the drive-by shooting that occurred just prior to him being shot by police
  • The statement of another individual, arrested with the Plaintiff who stated all of the occupants in the drive-by van had guns
  • Expert testimony on police tactics and psychological responses that would have demonstrated the reasonableness of the officers' actions

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