The Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to spend $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a teen who was paralyzed in a police shooting, struck with a single shot after an officer said he mistook a pellet gun for a real firearm.
Five years ago, 13-year-old Royahent Gomez Eriza was shot and wounded when police happened upon him and two friends playing on a dark Glassell Park street, the Los Angeles Times reports.
At the time, police officials said the officer believed the teenager was an adult man and was unable to see the orange tip of the pistol that reveals it as a replica. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck called the incident “a tragedy for all involved” and said the city had seen “far too much heartbreak involving these types of realistic guns that are labeled as toys.”
In the lawsuit, the teen and his mother alleged that the officer had drawn his weapon "without just and legal cause," disputing the police account of what happened.
Three years ago, a jury initially awarded $24 million to the teen in a civil suit, which was later reduced to $22 million, but the city filed an appeal against the decision.