It was two years ago that 13-year-old Rohayent Gomez and his friends were playing cops and robbers with pellet guns near the 3000 block of Verdugo Road in Glassell Park when an LAPD squad car stopped nearby on the dark street. The 13-year-old, who was hiding behind a van on the dark street, was caught off guard by the police. Officer Victor Abarca, who had assumed Gomez’ gun was real, opened fire on the boy, who was left paralyzed by the shooting. Today, a Los Angeles jury awarded Gomez $24 million in what maybe the largest single judgement made against the LAPD, reports the L.A. Times.
Witnesses refuted the officer’s account of the evening. Said the Times:
The jury found that Abarca had used excessive force and was negligent in his decision to shoot. While city taxpayers will pay the $24-million verdict, Abarca himself could be ordered to pay additional punitive damages if the jury chooses to award them at a later hearing.
The jury verdict comes after the L.A. Police Commission last year found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Abacara, the Times said. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he will seek an appeal of the verdict.