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Jury Awards $2.5M to Family of Man Who Was Fatally Shot While Stabbing California Officer

September 07, 2018  | 

A jury said the officer used "unreasonable force" in the 2013 incident in which Officer Jairo Acosta—with the Los Banos (CA) Police Department—responded to a call of domestic violence in which 80-year-old Tan Lam said his 43-year-old son had assaulted him. Image courtesy of Los Banos PD / Facebook. 
A jury said the officer used "unreasonable force" in the 2013 incident in which Officer Jairo Acosta—with the Los Banos (CA) Police Department—responded to a call of domestic violence in which 80-year-old Tan Lam said his 43-year-old son had assaulted him. Image courtesy of Los Banos PD / Facebook. 

The family of a man who was stabbing an officer with a pair of scissors when he was fatally shot has been awarded $2.5 million.

A jury said the officer used "unreasonable force" in the 2013 incident in which Officer Jairo Acosta—with the Los Banos (CA) Police Department—responded to a call of domestic violence in which 80-year-old Tan Lam said his 43-year-old son had assaulted him.

When Officer Acosta arrived at the scene, Sonny Lam—armed with a pair of scissors—attacked Acosta, who then fired two shots from his service pistol. The subject was transported to a nearby hospital, where he subsequently died.

The jury reportedly said that it was "unclear as to whether the officer was under immediate threat when he fired the second round" which caused the subject's death, the Los Banos PD said in a written statement posted to Facebook.

"All life is valuable and the use of deadly force is never taken lightly at the Los Banos Police Department but we respectfully disagree with the verdict and stand by Officer Acosta and believe that he acted in self-defense in his use of lethal force during a sequence of events that lasted less than a minute," the department said.

The department says it plans to file an appeal.


Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

kevcopaz @ 9/7/2018 5:41 PM

Unless the "second shot" was a "coup de gra"(sp?) head shot this jury needs their heads examined. Typical "well we are sad for the family and the tax payers have the $" decision.

DEPUTYJJG @ 9/8/2018 8:27 AM

WTF !!! Let's see how the jury would react if they were getting stabbed by this idiot. Geez. California LEO's are in deep trouble with decisions like this being made. JJG

Jon Retired LEO @ 9/8/2018 9:34 AM

I spent 7 years of my career as a District Court Bailiff. In Idaho the Bailiff is in charge of the Juries. Having seen many diverse people on Juries I can tell you that you never know what a Jury is going to do. There can be a case before them and it is plain to see that the defendant is guilty and they will come in with a Not Guilty verdict. This is an outrage that these people who have no idea what an officer is subjected to can just say he fired too many times. Political BS!

Skiman94 @ 9/10/2018 7:54 AM

Unbelievable. California LEO's: Texas is hiring.

Grey Bear @ 9/10/2018 9:59 AM

I guess it has come to NOT be true with the civil trials in this country, but whatever happened to being tried by a 'jury of your peers'?? I'd be willing to bet a substantial sum that not one of the misguided fools on this jury have ever been faced with s deadly-force encounter, or had their lives directly and viciously threatened...and if not, WTH gives them the right to judge this officer's actions?!? The judge is probably just as clueless or he/she would have vacated this idiotic verdict immediately.

Dave_M @ 9/11/2018 9:56 AM

"Gee ma'am, I'm sorry that I wasn't able to stop that fatal knife attack on your husband, but due to recent Federal Civil case rulings, only one shot is permissible in those situations. Yes, I know a second shot probably would have been useful. But it is the times we live in. Sorry about your loss."

People don't know that people that are shot in the real world don't always react like they do on TV or the movies.

Tom ret @ 9/15/2018 8:39 AM

I would leave because it is pretty much the norm there for the cops use of any force to be second guessed. A lot of the people there, politicians especially, aren't worth putting your life on the line for. Instead of being appreciative for the dangers that officer face, too many in Calif. will crucify their officers at the drop of a hat. If you want to stay a cop in Calif. better use a shotgun if the number of shots is going to be significant.

Charlie @ 9/15/2018 7:06 PM

Not only are this kind of jury thinking dangerous to officers, who have a millisecond to react to a dangerous situation, but the second dangerous part is the danger to the people they are sworn to protect. We see fewer people going into law enforcement, because of the political second guessing on deadly situations. No person can say that when a situation arises, due to fear of no support for their action the LEO, may freeze and be killed or injured. Sorry world we live in. God please protect the protectors.

CA LEO @ 9/18/2018 2:58 PM

FYI, there is a bill in CA legislature that will change the standard for use of force to "Necessary" instead of the federal standard of "Objectively Reasonable". That is the direction this state is headed. That is what this verdict is saying. Unfortunately, this change, if adopted, will pretty much stop us from doing our jobs with any amount of effectiveness. I'm glad I am only a few years from retirement and I am definitely moving out of CA.

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