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Friday, August 1, 2014

Glassell Park boy left paralyzed by LAPD shooting wins $24 million jury verdict

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.

26 comments

  1. -”who had assumed the gun was real”

    Pellet guns ARE real and either look like a RIFFLE or a HAND GUN depending on the model. They do not have the orange tip like toy guns because they are real guns that shoot real projectiles.
    I blame the parents (or lack thereof) for allowing the kids to play with real guns. Dumb idea. Now the boy is paralyzed and the tax payer is on the hook again. Dumb parenting. But now woohoo they hit the lottery!

    • Hmmm. I assume, Keyless Chuck, that if I offer you 24 million dollars, you will not only voluntarily shoot yourself in the spine, paralyzing yourself, but you will JUMP at the chance to shoot yourself and make yourself paralyzed, since it’s akin to winning the lottery and all.

      No jury awards 24 million without lots of evidence that those are the actual losses. How much does it cost to give a person, say, 75 years of medical treatment associated with their paralysis???? How much income will the 13 year old lose because he’s paralyzed and (probably) can’t work a high-paying job? How much money properly compensates a 13 year old kid for never being able to have children himself? Here’s a hint… a lot!

      I know the lawyer, so I’ll let him know that you’ll volunteer to trade places with the paralyzed kid if only you can get your hands on that lottery winning! Woo hoo!

      Dumbass.

      • Dear “lives in LH,” I don’t think anybody is suggesting that it’s great to be paralyzed or that anyone in their right mind would choose such a condition for any amount of money. The question is one of responsibility, and if the boy and his friends were playing with pellet guns and running when the police arrived, it calls into question whether or not the police are completely at fault. I’ll reserve judgment, since I don’t know all the facts of the case, but I would like to ask you one question: Since you know the lawyer, can you tell me what his “take” was in this case?

        • The police were found to have lied about what happened. The kid was not hiding from the police, nor was he running toward them, away from them, or otherwise. The pellet gun had an orange tip. The kid was startled by the police because he didn’t see him coming. The cop shot this 13 year old and then tried to COVER IT UP by making up an elaborate lie, which was disproven to the jury by both forensic evidence (the bullet’s trajectory was all wrong for the story) and an eyewitness. If it was truly a good shooting, then the cops would not have had to make up a scenario that didn’t happen.

          If we’re going to be talking about “responsibility,” I would hope that we remember that the cop has certain responsibilities too–not to shoot people (especially people who are not aggressive or putting the police in danger, which this kid was not) and certainly the responsibility not to LIE about what happened to cover his ass, forcing the family to deal with not only the heartbreak but the STAGGERING MEDICAL BILLS that resulted. I assure you that if the cop had told the truth from the start, this case would have settled for much less than $24 million. So, let’s direct our wrath and outrage towards the person who caused all this–not the kid.

          • Your response is clear, and if the police officers lied about what happened, then it sounds as if they do bear some (or a lot) of the responsibility for what happened. I know that medical bills for a lifetime of care for a paralyzed person can be staggering, so I ask you again, how much did the lawyer and/or his firm earn from this case? Because that’s money that goes into the attorney’s pocket and not towards the paralyzed boy’s medical care.

      • I like that you signed your name “dumbass” because that describes perfectly your inability to discern the point that I made.

        The PARENTS should be on the hook for allowing the kid to “PLAY” with a REAL GUN, not the tax payers. The parents should have to take care of this kid for the rest of his probable short life.

        It’s a shame what happened to the boy but the parents should be on the hook. But instead, the money will live in the parents pockets long after that poor kid is gone.

  2. Paralyzed w/ $24M or not paralyzed? I’d take not paralyzed. Sorry kid.

  3. Wow! So basically, if u have a toy gun that has no orange tip and looks real, u hide in a dark street when cops show up and u surprise them holding it at them, they shoot, u live and become rich! Ok time to got to the gun store on eagle rock blvd and ave 32.

    • Hmmm. I assume, Keyless Chuck, that if I offer you 24 million dollars, you will not only voluntarily shoot yourself in the spine, paralyzing yourself, but you will JUMP at the chance to shoot yourself and make yourself paralyzed, since it’s akin to winning the lottery and all.

      No jury awards 24 million without lots of evidence that those are the actual losses. How much does it cost to give a person, say, 75 years of medical treatment associated with their paralysis???? How much income will the 13 year old lose because he’s paralyzed and (probably) can’t work a high-paying job? How much money properly compensates a 13 year old kid for never being able to have children himself? Here’s a hint… a lot!

      I know the lawyer, so I’ll let him know that you’ll volunteer to trade places with the paralyzed kid if only you can get your hands on that lottery winning! Woo hoo!

      Dumbass.

  4. Hope it’s appealed!! It was good shooting per the article!

    • It was a bad shooting. The cop was shown to be a liar, not only by eyewitness testimony but by forensic evidence. Lovely to have pathological liars running around with guns shooting children.

      WHY AREN’T ALL YOU PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR TAXES CRYING OUT AGAINST THE COP THAT TOOK THE KID’S LIFE AWAY AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT? Do a little research before you claim it was a “good shooting.” The jury (i.e., 12 people who sat there listening to the evidence for weeks) made the decision–wonder why you think you know so much more than they do?

  5. The Jury could have been wrong just as many juries have been wrong before. The lawyer will probably receive 40 percent. No one is innocent here, especially not the blood sucking lawyer.

  6. So I wonder why the other (real witnesses) kids who were playing with him didnt testify? Their testimony would of had a reversal of the outcome. Too bad those witnesses move out of the area and weren’t able to be located.

  7. These kids are no saints! I live on verdugo place and have to deal with them all the time. I blame poor parenting. These kids hang around on Verdugo or on the stairs connecting verdugo and verdugo place smoking pot/spice and drinking.

    They are a nuisance and still to ignorant to realize that when the cops show you don’t run and start reaching in your bag. ( mostly minors trying to dumb their pot).

    I gave up on them a long time ago ….

  8. All of u stupid people that are talking about my brother and my parents in a mean way u have no idea what we have been trough!!! Don’t judge!! You’ll don’t know what really happen!
    You’ll have no idea how hard it is to not be able to walk and for my mom that she has to shower him clean him dress him and Carrie him he is like a baby that u have to do almost everything to help him cause he don’t have force from his stomach To his foot… You’ll don’t know the dreams that he had before what happen he want it to be a professional soccer player!! We wish that he walked and not to have that money and to live tranquil humbly and be the poorest people in the world but watching him walking!!!! You’ll haven’t passed that that’s why you’ll are talking shit! But god is watching everything that we do that we talk so be careful what u say cause that can happen to you’ll!! GOD FORGIVE THEM!!

  9. My brother is a student with A and B in his class he is a Clean kid he don’t smoke no drink he dont do drugs!!! that was te first time that he went to played outside of the apartments cause we had just moved there he never run away from the police and never hide from them before talking you’ll have to investigate what really happens!!

  10. Horrible situation because of a stupid, trigger happy cop. There are way too many cops out there that think they can do whatever they want without consequence. This is one of the worst kinds of lose-lose situations. Poor, poor kid. I’m sorry for your family’s loss Jocelyn.

    The officer should have to pay for this for the rest of his life. Unfair to put the burden on the tax payers. The pigs need to be put in check, this is a disgrace to the city.

  11. There are no winners in this case. I was in that courtroom for 3 weeks listening to the testimony and reviewing the evidence. Everyone involved in the case was somewhat at fault: the officer, the mother, and the victim. It was our job to base our verdict based on witnesses and evidence that seemed more likely to be true than not. Since this was a civil trial and not a criminal one, we did not have to be unanimous. Nine out of 12 jurors decided that the officer was indeed negligent in the shooting of Ryan Gomez, who was only 13 at the time. His medical expenses are astounding because part of his lung had to be removed. He gets lung infections easily and has spent a lot of time in the hospital already because of this horrible accident.
    He is not a gang member. He gets good grades. He was in band. Ryan is a kid.
    One of the many problems with this trial was the defense, or lack of. “Lives in LH” is correct about the bullet’s path through Ryan’s body, the defense was wrong. The police tried to cover each other’s asses, but in the end they couldn’t hide the truth. This case could have gone in a completely different direction if the police hadn’t tried to cover up their mistakes. Bottom line is that a kid is in a wheelchair as a result.
    My heart goes out to the mother and family. I wish them all the best.

    • Im relieved to hear your version of the story. I am also saddened to hear his sister have to defend her brother and parents to clueless outsiders. Please be considerate of who might be reading your posts. The child himself might be reading this, as well as his younger siblings. Being a little less judgmental in life can go a long way.

      • Yes, once again I feel I need to punctuate my point by bringing up what juror 10 pointed out. Many people at fault here including the mother of this child. Yes, we all make mistakes but the cop, the mother and the child were the ones at fault. They should pay; not us as the taxpayer.

        It so aggravating that our society has set a precedent of going after “who ever has the deepest pockets”! How much money would this poor kid get for his medical expenses if it had been a neighbor or a gang member that shot him? None. The only difference being the amount of money available…

        I have sympathy for the kid and his family that this happened but the message here is “the one with the deepest pockets always looses”.

      • Banana, you mentioned younger siblings, and he has a (presumably older) sister; how many siblings does this young man have in total?

  12. James, why u want to know how many we are?

    • Jocelyn, I am sorry that the LA Unified School District has failed you too. What a terrible situation that we are sending kids like you out into the world without the most basic writing skills. So sad.

      • Keyless Chuck, don’t blame me or my LAUSD colleagues exclusively. I take the time to line-edit my students’ essays and catch every single spelling and grammatical error, but despite my best efforts, some students still don’t improve. I do wish that all teachers who assign writing (such as social studies and science teachers) would take the time to line-edit their students’ essays, but it seems that few teachers do so. (I’ve heard some social-studies teachers say, “I’m not an English teacher; I just grade their essays for content.”) That said, when you have a total of 200+ students, it’s impossible to catch all of their errors and still manage to have any free time.

        • Well James, I thought I had put a very thoughtful and unoffensive retort here for you to see but evidently I offended Jesus the Latino moderator with the truth. So he deleted it.

          i give up. I guess I need to find an unbiased forum…

          • It’s okay; I think I know where you were going. Actually, I was hoping that Jocelyn would write back and ask what errors she had made so that I’d have an excuse to correct and edit her comments. Of course, she would have to be interested in becoming a better writer, and that’s not something a teacher can easily impart to a student if the parents and community aren’t on board.

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