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Anaheim Pays $1.55M In Justified Police Shooting

October 30, 2012  | 

CC_Flickr: Inventorchris
CC_Flickr: Inventorchris

The city of Anaheim agreed to pay $1.55 million to the family of a man fatally shot by police in 2008 even though the officer was exonerated, the Orange County Register reports.

The city made the payment to the widow, daughter, and parents of Julian Alexander, as well as the family's attorneys. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas found no criminal wrongdoing in the shooting.

On Oct. 28, 2008, Alexander left his house after hearing loud noises. Officer Kevin Flanagan was chasing three burglary suspects through the yard. Alexander grabbed a large stick, and Officer Flanagan shined a light and ordered him to drop it. When Alexander refused to put down the stick, Officer Flanagan shot and killed him.

Comments (25)

Displaying 1 - 25 of 25

Jack Betz @ 10/30/2012 6:35 PM

Crap like this is why departments are going broke

Scott @ 10/30/2012 7:10 PM

That's what happens when you bring a stick to a gunfight.

Jim VG @ 10/30/2012 7:21 PM

This is not going to help them in their current problems either.

Ben @ 10/30/2012 7:36 PM

Dave @ 10/30/2012 9:37 PM

Even though no criminal charges were brought, I'm sure the city and it's insurers were worried about what a jury would think about an officer shooting a man who was holding a stick, justified or not. There was a good chance they'd be paying out a lot more if they lost at trial.

Ohio Police Instructor @ 10/30/2012 10:24 PM

This is a horrible situation that no cop would want to experience. The homeowner likely believed someone was threatening his property or family. Many of us may have done the same thing in his situation, and not realized it was a an officer pointing a flashlight at us (no police car visible to the homeowner, because he chased the 3 suspects into the area). The officer runs into a decent citizen that he thinks is one of three burglars who he thinks is done running away. An awful situation.

Blaming the innocent homeowner is simply wrong. He did nothing wrong, and a family is tragically left without a husband and father who was trying to protect them - his duty and right as an American.

And you cannot blame the officer, knowing that many of us might have done the same thing. If someone came at us with a stick, and we believed he had two buddies somewhere in the area, we wouldn't take any chances when he approached us.

The officer should have received sovereign immunity, so the city had no real obligation to pay the family, but their decision was probably best for their relationship with the public they serve. I am sure the officer who was involved wished it would have never happened, but the fault lies squarely on the three burglary suspects. Without their criminal conduct none of this would have happened. That is who everyone should focus their contempt and anger. Not the officer and not the citizen caught in the middle.

JF Dassonville @ 10/31/2012 12:48 AM

I definitely agree with Ohio Police Instructor.

Jack Webb 714 @ 10/31/2012 4:27 AM

Please ! Someone ! Anyone ! Shoot me !
After reading the remarks posted by mindless idiots I can 't take it any longer. !
I won 't even hold a stick .

Bob @ VA @ 10/31/2012 4:44 AM

I wonder how many read the background material. The officer was in Alexander's yard in the dark, therefore basically an unidentified intruder and a perceived threat to Alexander's family. The onus was on the officer to clearly identify himself and grant the homeowner the benefit of the doubt on private property. Alexander had the right to defend his property against an intruder. From the background, it didn't sound like Alexander advanced on the officer, either, but simply stood his ground on his own property. He acted to defend his family as many of us would have.

It was definitely a tragic day for all concerned, but the award was more than justified. The family breadwinner, who was innocent of any wrongdoing, was killed under color of law on his own private property. Better officer training could perhaps have made a positive difference for the family, but Aneheim seems to prefer paying out large awards to bereaved families.

Bobby @ 10/31/2012 5:38 AM

Reading the short news article I feel that some information was left out of the article, did the PO ID himself? , did Mr. Alexander make any attempt to ID who was in front of him? As a PO we have to make these decisions quickly sometimes and it such a tragedy for everyone in this case.

Greg @ 10/31/2012 5:58 AM

The lone officer saw a 6'5" 250 pound 20 year old black male in the dark with a stick (club?)....and shot/killed him.

It actually sounds like he was a bit trigger happy and intimidated by Alexander. Was he exhonerated? Yes. Should he have been exhonerated? Don't know given the scant info in the articles. But Alexander was dead, shot in his own yard and no injury was done to the officer...not good.

S.S @ 10/31/2012 6:08 AM

Typical .L.A. is just like any other of these other cities. They're afraid to fight. Just a bunch of chicken sh** a holes. The worst part is that they leave the officers out to hang.

Butch @ 10/31/2012 6:35 AM

The officer should sue the family for his future PTSD problems.

Dan @ 10/31/2012 6:47 AM

Oh, come on Butch!! OPI, although a bit wordy, is absolutely right. Some of the others are, as well. No solid fault can be placed any where. There were some parts of the articles that left something to be desired reference facts.

Butch @ 10/31/2012 6:56 AM

Police should start suing back.

Butch Ramik @ 10/31/2012 7:04 AM

How long does it take to cross 20 feet of space. And if bat is raised to hit someone. The officer in that time must think about what he must do.

brasey @ 10/31/2012 7:44 AM

Simple issue.... Defending you and your loved ones requires a certain
degree of common sense. Defend you and yours from intruders. Hear
loud, disturbing noises outside... Call 911. I understand in the heat of the moment the deceased was doing what he felt was right, but secure the inside 1st. ....and remember, typically, bad guys don't use flashlights & I.D. themselves as Police.... They just shoot.

Retired LEO & Trainer @ 10/31/2012 7:54 AM

This is truly a tragic situation. However, it is also an opportunity to clarify some key points that can help in evaluating this and other situations. How we think and talk about these critical issues is important. We are law enforcement professionals need to acknowledge errors while still backing our officers. There are more options than Criminal or Justified – this tragic case in neither criminal nor justified. Think about it.

This shooting was not a criminal act by officer but, based on the information provided; it was not justified in that there is no indication that Mr. Alexander’s took aggressive action toward a person he know to be a police officer. The officer made a mistake, an understandable one but still a mistake. By failing to acknowledge that fact, we in law enforcement are doing a disservice to the public, to our profession and to every officer faced with spilt second decisions.

We in law enforcement need to begin acknowledging mistakes, paying for them if need be, learning and improving ourselves.

Also I believe Ohio Police Instructor- meant to say: “qualified immunity” not “sovereign immunity” there is a huge difference.
How we discuss these issues influences how we think about them and ultimately how we react.

Sam @ 10/31/2012 9:12 AM

"As well as the family's attorneys" is an understatement, I'm sure!

John @ 10/31/2012 3:52 PM

I believe in officer safety, but I also believe an innocent homeowner has a right to stand in their own yard without being shot by police. Here are some general questions to ponder:
1) Call 911 everytime you hear a loud noise outside?
2) Criminals don't use flashlights?
3) Although a rare occurrence, criminals have never identified themselves as police officers?
Here are some specific questions to ponder:
1.) Did Mr. Alexander advance towards Officer Flanagan?
2.) Could Mr. Alexander identify Officer Flanagan if a flashlight beam was being pointing towards Mr. Alexander's face?
3.) How many times did Officer Flanagan identify himself? Did he do so in a clear voice?
4.) How much time lapsed between Officer Flanagan identifying himself and then shooting Mr. Alexander?
5.) Did Mr. Alexander have difficulty hearing or was he simply slow in reacting?

pjdonnelly @ 10/31/2012 8:17 PM

That's why I teach rookies about the economic side of civil liability. I know what I did was right. My partner knows it was right. My sergeant knows it was right and ultimately the Chief knows I'm right. But if I'm the city or county attorney, and I can make the complaint go away with a settlement, that's what I'm going to do. It's all economics. The problem is that John Q. Citizen reading about the settlement will say, boy, that cop must have really screwed up. A sad fact of life in our litigious society.

MIKE @ 11/1/2012 8:35 PM


M.Conner @ 11/2/2012 3:55 PM

We were not there. It is difficult if not impossible to know what really happened. I wish the best for Mr. Alexander's family.

Jay @ 11/3/2012 6:41 AM

This is a tragedy for all concerned. However, for those who are writing that the homeowner did not take aggressive action, remember that common Constitutional standard for deadly force includes "imminent" jeopardy. So again, if you are applying case law, you still must base it on the officer's perspective, at that time.

Dan @ 11/5/2012 6:19 AM

Please remember that the officer's actions were justified under CRIMINAL LAW. The litigation was under civil law. The degree of proof in a civil case is much less.

In this case it looks like the system worked regarding the shooting. Officer goes home. Family gets compensated for loss of loved one and bread winner.

In this case the system didn't work because the burglars likely had numerous prior arrests and were back to terrorize a neighborhood.

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