Survivor shot in head by LAPD officer in Los Feliz files Civil Rights lawsuit

LOS FELIZ, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Walter DeLeon, who survived a gunshot wound to the head by a Los Angeles police officer, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department.

DeLeon was out for a walk along Los Feliz Boulevard on June 19 when he stated he needed help from the police. DeLeon said he was going to ask two LAPD officers for assistance when one of the officers shot him in the head.

The LAPD said DeLeon looked like he was hiding a gun.

"Our initial statement was that Mr. DeLeon approached the police car in an aggressive manner with his hands, or hand, wrapped in a piece of cloth," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said in a previous statement.

But the 49-year-old handyman said he only had a water bottle and a towel.

The lawsuit lists the city of Los Angeles, the LAPD, LAPD Officer Cairo Palacios and several unnamed LAPD officers as defendants.

"Officer Palacios shot Mr. DeLeon for carrying a towel," the lawsuit stated. "The conversation lasted mere seconds before Officer Palacios rushed out of the patrol car, drew his gun, and without warning or commands, immediately opened fire."

MORE: Man who survived shot in head by LAPD officer in Los Feliz speaks exclusively to ABC7

DeLeon survived after being in a coma for two weeks and undergoing nine surgeries. He now has a permanent disability and needs constant care. DeLeon lost an eye and hearing in one of his ears.

The lawsuit stated he also lost one pound of cranial matter, the ability to walk, most cognitive functions and said he has frequent flashbacks or nightmares of the shooting.

"This complaint gives me a voice for the people who are weak," DeLeon said in a video statement. "There are hundreds who did not make it, who are no longer living. So I'm here for that purpose, to be heard and to bring change to the law enforcement departments as to how they go about enforcing the law."

Lawyers for DeLeon asked for a jury to decide a monetary judgement for general damages, special damages, punitive and exemplary damages, and money for the cost of the lawsuit and attorney fees.

ABC7 reached out to the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD who stated they do not comment on pending litigation.
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