LA County Agrees to Pay $14.3 Million: In Case of Mistaken Identity Cops Murdered Frank Mendoza but Actually Intended to Murder Another Latino Man, Though They Looked Nothing Alike

frank mendoza - la county.jpg

From [HERE] Los Angeles County has agreed to pay $14.35 million to the family of a Latino man mistakenly shot by police during an alleged search for a wanted gang member, the family’s attorney said.

The settlement, one of the highest ever paid by the county, was reached earlier this year but the amount had not been made public.

Frank Mendoza, 54, was fatally shot on August 1, 2014 by a sheriff’s deputy who mistook him for Cedric Ramirez.

Ramirez, 24, a parolee wanted on felony charges, had broken into the Mendoza home during a police chase in LA’s Pico Rivera neighborhood.

Several members of the family managed to escape from the house. But when Mendoza tried to flee through the front door, a deputy mistook him for Ramirez and shot him once in the forehead and once in the leg, according to a report of the incident.

“This is the worst nightmare of any citizen, where they’re under the suspicion that they’re being protected by law enforcement and instead, law enforcement ends up taking their life,” Garo Mardirossian, the family’s attorney, told reporters on Monday.

Mendoza’s family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the Sheriff’s Department after the shooting, claiming that officers had been negligent.

The suit said that before the shooting took place, three officers had entered the Mendoza home while chasing Ramirez.

But they exited the house after hearing gunshots coming from the backyard, leaving the family vulnerable, the suit said.

Ramirez then managed to get inside the home through a back window.

Three family members escaped but when Mendoza stepped out of the house, he was mistaken for Ramirez and shot.

Ramirez was later shot and killed after pointing a gun at an officer and holding Mendoza’s wife Lorraine hostage for eight hours, authorities said.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department offered its condolences to the Mendoza family and said it was always striving to avoid similar tragedies from taking place.

“Deputies were forced to make a split-second decision as an armed suspect willingly fired upon deputies multiple times, putting innocent lives at risk and taking a family hostage in their home,” the statement said. “The outcome was the rescue of that hostage, but also the heartbreaking death of an innocent man.” -- AFP