$13.2M awarded to family of OC man who died after chokehold by Anaheim police

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BySid Garcia via KABC logo
Friday, November 22, 2019
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A federal jury awarded $13.2 million to the children of a man who died after being placed in a chokehold by Anaheim police in 2016.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been three-and-a-half years since Vincent Valenzuela died after an altercation with Anaheim police.

This week, a federal jury awarded $13.2 million to Valenzuela's two children, Ximena and Vincent Jr.

His widow, Patricia Gonzalez, says when it comes to the verdict, she and her family are still dealing with the trauma "and nothing else will ever replace Vincent."

Surveillance and body camera video show what happened in July 2016.

After getting a call to check on a suspicious person that matched Valenzuela's description, Anaheim police officers approached him in a laundromat.

Things escalated and one of the officers had him in what a federal jury ruled was a chokehold.

Valenzuela died a few days later.

Months after it happened, the Orange County District Attorney's Office ruled the actions of the three Anaheim officers were justified.

During the federal trial, attorneys for Valenzuela's family say, Anaheim police defended what they did.

"The police said they would do it over and over and over again," Attorney Dale Galipo, one of the lawyers representing Valenzuela's family, said.

When it was all said and done, the federal jury found the Anaheim police officers used excessive force.

Family attorney Garo Mardirossian says "a citizen has the right to resist when an officer is using excessive force."

Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster says the city disagrees with the jury and that the officers acted in accordance with department policy.

"We respectfully disagree with that finding," Lyster said. "We also believe the judgment is unwarranted. We believe our officers acted in the best interest of public safety."

The officers involved in the incident remain on the Anaheim police force.