A memorial for Reginald Doucet sits not far from where he was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer in January 2011. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LA to pay more than $8 million to settle lawsuits over 3 deadly LAPD shootings

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay more than $8 million to settle lawsuits filed by relatives of three men who were shot and killed by LAPD officers.

Two of the shootings thrust the LAPD into a firestorm of criticism: last spring’s killing of Brendon Glenn, an unarmed man who was living in Venice, and the deadly 2011 shooting of Reginald Doucet Jr., a former college football player.

The third shooting, which left an unarmed 35-year-old man, Sergio Navas, dead after a car chase that ended in Burbank, drew less attention publicly but raised questions among some within the LAPD.

Glenn’s family settled its lawsuit for $4 million, Navas’ for $2.5 million and Doucet’s for $1.65 million. The council approved the payouts unanimously.

The settlements come amid the persistent scrutiny of policing across the country, stirred by a list of controversial shootings by officers. The LAPD has not been immune to the heightened focus; activists here have protested deadly shootings in Venice, on skid row and in South L.A.

Much of the criticism has centered on how police interact with African-Americans. Two of the men killed in the shootings that were settled Tuesday — Glenn and Doucet — were black, as are the officers who shot them.

Glenn’s family agreed to settle their lawsuits for $4 million — one of the higher payouts in a deadly LAPD shooting in recent years. The money will be split between Glenn’s mother and 4-year-old son, their attorney said earlier this month.

“This has impacted this family’s life each and every day,” the lawyer, V. James DeSimone, said earlier this month of Glenn’s death. “It has really robbed them of a lot of the joy of living. There are reminders each and every day of how much they miss Brendon.”

Glenn was fatally shot May 5, 2015, during a struggle with police near the famed Venice boardwalk. Officer Clifford Proctor told investigators he opened fire because he saw the 29-year-old’s hand on his partner’s holster and thought he was trying to grab the officer’s gun, according to an LAPD report made public earlier this year.

But video from a nearby bar and statements from Proctor’s partner disputed that account, according to the report. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also questioned the officer’s actions and, in an unprecedented move as chief, recommended that the district attorney file criminal charges against the officer for his actions in a deadly on-duty shooting.

The Police Commission sided with the chief earlier this year, finding Proctor violated LAPD rules for using deadly force.

Beck and the commission also faulted the officer who shot and killed Navas at the end of a March 2015 car chase. Officers tried to stop Navas after they spotted him speeding in a Mercury Sable in Toluca Lake, but investigators said the 35-year-old took off toward Burbank.

Six minutes later, Navas came to an abrupt halt on National Avenue, a dead-end street. The police SUV stopped alongside the Sable.

Officer Brian Van Gorden told investigators he was sitting in the passenger seat when Navas got out, slammed the Sable’s door and turned to face him, according to an LAPD report released earlier this year. Fearing Navas was trying to ambush him, Van Gorden said, he opened fire.

The Police Commission agreed with Beck’s conclusion that an officer with similar training and experience “would not reasonably believe Navas’ actions presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

The third shooting settled by the city Tuesday happened in January 2011, when officers went to Playa Vista to investigate reports of a disturbance and possible theft after a cab driver called police to complain that a customer had walked away without paying his fare. Officers found the customer — Doucet, a 25-year-old athletic trainer and model who had played defensive back at El Camino College and Middle Tennessee State University — on a sidewalk, naked.

Doucet initially cooperated with police and put his hands behind his head as if surrendering, according to a report Beck submitted to the Police Commission. When Officer Aaron Goff tried to handcuff him, however, Beck said, Doucet balled his hands into fists and broke free from police.

Two officers chased him to the front door of his apartment building, where Goff told investigators he tried to grab Doucet from behind. Doucet turned and punched the officer, later grabbing the handle of his gun and trying to yank it out of the holster, according to Beck’s report.

Police say Doucet continued to punch both officers. As they continued to struggle with Doucet, Goff drew his gun and fired twice. One of the bullets struck Doucet in the neck, killing him.

The shooting sparked an outcry from Doucet’s friends and family, who questioned how an unarmed man could have overwhelmed two officers and why police didn’t try to use a Taser to subdue him.

Police commissioners determined Goff was justified in using deadly force. The district attorney’s office declined to charge the officer, saying he acted lawfully to defend himself and his partner.

Lawsuits related to the shooting have wound their way through court in recent years. A jury sided with Doucet’s family this fall, according to one of their attorneys. The settlement was reached before the panel could weigh potential damages.

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