Man shot by LAPD officer in Echo Park files lawsuit claiming excessive force

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The lawyer of a man police said is a known gang member believes an officer who shot his client in Echo Park should have never pulled the trigger. (KABC)

The lawyer of a man police said is a known gang member believes an officer who shot his client in Echo Park should have never pulled the trigger.

An estimated 20 men got in a fist fight outside the Short Stop bar, which is a known hangout of Los Angeles police officers. Within minutes of the fight, arriving Officer Hector Cortez got out of his cruiser, drew his weapon and fired a shot so quickly his own partner ducked for cover.

The target was Andres Ramirez, who authorities said is a known gang member and former felon who had a weapon he could not legally possess.

But his lawyer said there was no threat to an officer that night.

"That gun wasn't pointed toward anybody. That gun wasn't being used in any way. He was just holding the gun," attorney Michael Devereaux said.

Devereaux is suing and claims a video captured at the scene shows excessive force - that Cortez was too quick with the trigger and that while Ramirez has a weapon in his hand when the cruiser arrived, he was running away from officers, not confronting them.

"I think he was probably scared at that point," Devereaux said.

In the video, Cortez continued to pursue while Ramirez ditched the weapon. Then Cortez fired two more times and Ramirez went down after being hit.

Statements taken by district attorney investigators raised questions.

One of the men involved in the fight is an off-duty LAPD Officer named Aarshivir Shaldjian. His statement was that during the fight, he saw Ramirez's gun and in moments heard a gunshot.

The driver in the police cruiser, Officer Daniel Hughes, said he heard a gunshot, too, "upon exiting the vehicle," apparently not realizing it was his partner who opened fire.

Hughes said he thought at the time it could be an ambush and joined the chase.

But what the district attorney found is two guns: one tossed by Ramirez in a planter and a 9mm, which is an LAPD weapon that had been stolen and ended up near the brawl.

But the only shots fired were from Cortez's weapon. As for his account? It is redacted in the D.A. report.

Devereaux suspects Cortez's cruiser did not arrive that night by chance, but that Shaldjian had called Cortez. It's unclear what the motive for that action would be.

The district attorney ended up finding that Cortez acted within the law, but Devereaux said that all three officers involved are now off-duty and face an internal board of rights hearing.

He added that Ramirez's civil trial is set for March and he still has two bullets in his back that cannot be removed.
Related Topics:
officer-involved shootinglapdfightlawsuitsurveillance videogangman shotman injuredEcho ParkLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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