Family of teen father killed in Westmont deputy-involved shooting announces lawsuit

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The family of a teenager who was fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said Wednesday they are suing the county and the 10 involved deputies, alleging federal civil rights violations.

Anthony Weber's daughter, Violet, was seen next to a picture of her late father. Weber, 16, was fatally shot in his Westmont neighborhood back in February.

The family said the sheriff's department has a code of silence surrounding their investigation, and the family has filed a lawsuit in response. The 22-page complaint seeks at least $10 million in damages.

"I'm still in denial and disbelief. I still can't believe this happened to my child. I never thought he would be shot by a member of law enforcement," said Demetra Johnson, Weber's mother.

The sheriff's department said deputies were responding to a 911 call of a man with a gun. When they saw Weber, they ordered him not to move, but homicide investigators said he ran toward deputies and was shot.

A gun has not been recovered and the family said he was unarmed. The department, however, said somebody in the crowd took the gun from the suspect's body.

"Witnesses did not see any gun at the time or immediately thereafter, and immediately after the shooting, AJ went to the ground and the area was taped off," said family attorney Dale Galipo. "It would have been impossible for there to have been a gun, a gun tossed, or a gun taken away from the scene. It simply did not happen, and we believe that's a fabricated fact."

"The department has to learn how to communicate and respond to the young men of this community," Johnson said.

The attorney for the Weber family said he spoke with the lead investigator with the sheriff's department on Tuesday and was told the coroner's preliminary report still isn't complete.

The LASD later released a statement, which said that while they are waiting for more evidence testing, evidence so far supports what they say happened.

The full statement from the LASD is below:

"Justice is not achieved in seconds, minutes or hours but during months of a painstaking, detailed process of getting the facts right beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence is not opinion. This is what makes justice worth fighting for, and waiting for. We have watched as individuals hurl allegations or immediately assume that deputy involved shootings and the aftermath are signs of police misconduct. It is frustrating for our Department to see that there is a growing body of evidence in this case that is undeniable, and yet, to protect the integrity of the investigation, to continue to maintain open channels of communication for more potential witnesses to come forward, we must stay silent. We too must wait for the months of evidence testing, re-testing, and examination by numerous county professionals which is taking place under the oversight of LA County's Office of Inspector General which has complete access to evidence and witness statements. The day will come when the evidence will speak for us because, in the best system of justice in the world, it is the evidence that must matter the most."
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