Mom of man shot by deputies in Ladera Heights says son was mentally ill

LADERA HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The mother of an unarmed black man shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the sheriff's department and the county.

Janet Williams said her son, 41-year-old Todd Rogers, was mentally ill and couldn't afford medication when he was confronted by deputies outside a 24 Hour Fitness in Ladera Heights.

Rogers was shot and killed on March 8. Williams said deputies killed her son because of his race.

"Tell me why they took him from me. Why couldn't they shoot him in his arm or leg if they just had to shoot him?" his mother said.

Back in March, a lieutenant with the LASD said Rogers became aggressive, prompting a deputy to use a Taser.

Authorities said employees at the gym called police after Rogers harassed several people. They said he left but later returned and began acting erratically.

Lieutenant Joe Mendoza said Rogers threatened deputies with a weapon.

"An electronic device with a tether on it. It appeared to be a cord and he began to swing over his head toward deputies," Mendoza said. "He was Tased again and again. It was ineffective."

Authorities claimed Rogers swung hair clippers at a deputy's head. The family's attorney said the shooting was not justified.

"I believe what's reported is that Todd had electric scissors which you would use to cut your hair. We don't know if that's true, but we believe that's meaningless," said the attorney.

Williams said her son left Houston to pursue a career in acting and was struggling financially.

"He would always tell me, 'Mom, whatever you do, don't stop praying for me because he knew my faith was so strong in God," Williams said.

The LASD said deputies did call a mental evaluation team for assistance. It's unclear if the team arrived on the scene.

The department said it is waiting on additional funding to increase staffing as part of a plan that includes support for individuals suffering from mental illness.
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