Family of Man Shot and Killed by LAPD gets $2.2 million dollar Settlement Slashed Because “35% of the Blame is on the Victim”

Injustice, News, Police Brutality

In May of 2013 the family of Christian Eaddy made a call to the authorities in distress when the 26-year-old with was exhibiting suicidal behavior. Eaddy, an individual with a history of brain injury was- as his family relayed to the police dispatcher- stabbing himself with syringes and kitchen knives outside the home. This cousin dialed 911 seeking help to regain control of the situation before Eaddy could harm himself even more, but despite their pleas for help, instead of diffusing the situation, police shot and killed Eaddy in his Pacoima driveway. In the months following his death, his killing was deemed “justified by y LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey declined to prosecute Officer Christopher Carr”  but upon a jury taking a closer look at the matter, it was found back in August that the LAPD acted negligently and were in violation Eaddy’s civil rights and awarded the family $2.2 million in damages. The victory was, however, short-lived as the defense was able to make the jury buy into the notion of victim blaming and attributed 35% of the blame on Eaddy due to his behaviors even though they were a result of brain injuries he sustained as a child. With his information, the jury slashed compensation to $1.43 million, resulting in another huge injustice for Eaddy and his family.

As reported in the L.A. Times:

The jury awarded $2.2 million in damages but reduced that amount to $1.43 million by finding Eaddy was also at fault, and attributed 35% of the blame to him. Eaddy had suffered a brain injury as a child.

“Litigation it seems is the only way to hold officers and the department accountable. There is very little accountability from [the] district attorney’s office and Police Department,” said John Taylor, the attorney for Eaddy’s family.

The council voted 14 to 0 to approve the settlement, which, including attorneys’ fees, was lower than the trial award. The cost of the payout will be spread over the current and next fiscal year.

Officers were dispatched to Eaddy’s home on the afternoon of May 16, 2013. His cousin called 911 to report that Eaddy was stabbing himself with syringes and was carrying two kitchen knives. The cousin told a dispatcher that Eaddy said he was trying to commit suicide, according to a summary of the incident detailed in a memo by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Eaddy was known to become aggressive with police, and four other family members were on the driveway watching him, the cousin told the dispatcher.

But a Los Angeles County jury in August found the LAPD had acted negligently and violated Eaddy’s civil rights.

The jury awarded $2.2 million in damages but reduced that amount to $1.43 million by finding Eaddy was also at fault, and attributed 35% of the blame to him. Eaddy had suffered a brain injury as a child.

 “Litigation it seems is the only way to hold officers and the department accountable. There is very little accountability from [the] district attorney’s office and Police Department,” said John Taylor, the attorney for Eaddy’s family.

The council voted 14 to 0 to approve the settlement, which, including attorneys’ fees, was lower than the trial award. The cost of the payout will be spread over the current and next fiscal year.

Officers were dispatched to Eaddy’s home on the afternoon of May 16, 2013. His cousin called 911 to report that Eaddy was stabbing himself with syringes and was carrying two kitchen knives. The cousin told a dispatcher that Eaddy said he was trying to commit suicide, according to a summary of the incident detailed in a memo by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Eaddy was known to become aggressive with police, and four other family members were on the driveway watching him, the cousin told the dispatcher.

When officers arrived, they saw Eaddy with the knives walking in circles, scraping the blades together as the family members stood by.

Police issued several orders for Eaddy to get on the ground, but he advanced toward the officers while holding the knives, prosecutors said.

A witness recalled that Eaddy, striking the blades together, told the officers, “I’m not going to hurt nobody.”

Officer Fernando Avila used his stun gun on the young man, and nearly simultaneously Carr fired a single fatal round from about 9 feet away, according to a summary of the incident released by the LAPD in 2014.

The most disturbing piece of information to be taken away from the incident was that, according to attorneys for the family, Eaddy was shot only 40 seconds after officers arrived. He later died in hospital. Their argument was that he was a threat to no one but himself and hat non-lethal force could have, and should have been used.

Taylor said jurors could identify what a reasonable officer would do by comparing the actions of the two officers: One “chose to use less-lethal force, not deadly force.”

Attorneys for the city during the trial had argued that Carr was acting in self-defense and within the bounds of the department’s policies.

Edwin Rathbun, an attorney for the city, had argued that Carr was justified in using deadly force because Eaddy charged at the officers.

The police chief and Los Angeles Police Commission ruled in 2014 that the shooting was justified and within policy. In a Sept. 23, 2014, memo, the district attorney’s office concluded that Carr had a reasonable fear of death or significant injury and “acted lawfully in self-defense and defense of others.”

Taylor said Eaddy could still be alive if the officers showed better judgment. He faulted the officers’ tactical decisions and questioned why they did not wait for several backup units that were en route to the scene.

The lawyer also disputed the narrative offered by police and said Eaddy had placed the two knives in a shopping cart in the driveway before he was shot. The knives were recovered from the shopping cart, he said.

The department had insisted that Eaddy was still holding the knives when the deadly round was fired.

Attorneys for Eaddy’s family contended that the bullet struck Eaddy in a way that showed he turned toward the shopping cart. Thus, he was complying with police commands, the lawyers said.

Why is it that the victim who was of diminished mental capacity- have any of the blame put on him, and not solely placed on those that killed him? While Eaddy made himself clear that he was a threat to no one but himself, why did officers act so rash, and with deadly force at that? For his killing, none of the officers involved have been reprimanded and the sole recompense his family had was undermined by the justice system placing blame on their lost loved one in having a hand in his own murder. What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Eaddy bears partial responsibility for his own death, or should blame be solely placed on those who are paid and trained to handle such situations? Join the discussion in the comments below.

(Article by Tasha Sharifa)

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