Mistrial declared in civil lawsuit against 2 LASD deputies who shot man multiple times in back

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Autopsy report shows East L.A. man was shot 13 times in back by deputies
It's been nearly a year since Anthony Vargas was shot and killed following an encounter with two East Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A mistrial was declared Tuesday in a civil case involving two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who shot and killed an East L.A. man who was struck multiple times in the back.

Anthony Vargas was returning home from a party when he was encountered by Deputies Jonathon Rojas and Nikolis Perez and shot on Aug. 12, 2018.

According to Sheriff's Department, the deputies were summoned to the Nueva Maravilla housing complex following a robbery. They responded to the scene and saw Vargas walking through the apartment courtyard, and he allegedly he ran away from them. When the deputies moved to detain Vargas, authorities said, a fight broke out and the 21-year-old grabbed a gun from his waistband.

"The presence of the firearm immediately escalated the situation to a potentially deadly encounter for the deputies," the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said in a February 2020 memorandum. "Vargas repeatedly ignored the deputies' orders to show his hands and continued to resist their attempts to gain control of them."

Vargas' family has disputed those claims.

After being shot, he was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy report by the Los Angeles county coroner's office stated that Vargas "sustained 10 gunshot wounds to the back and rear shoulder," along with a wound to the head that entered behind the left ear, one to the right forearm and a grazing wound to the head.

The mother of a 21-year-old man who was killed in a deputy-involved shooting staged a demonstration in East LA Saturday, demanding the names of the deputies involved in the shooting be released.

The mistrial was declared after jurors deliberated for four days and were unable to reach a unanimous decision. The jury's vote was split 6-2, with the majority voting in favor of the defendants.

An attorney for Vargas' family, Humberto Guizar, said one of the issues that contributed to the jurors' decision was the gun that was found after the confrontation. The family's attorneys have argued that the gun was planted by authorities after Vargas was shot.

"It's not over," Guizar said Tuesday, adding that the family intends to refile the lawsuit.