Two Los Angeles police officers who say they were given desk jobs and passed up for promotions after shooting an unarmed autistic man in the face in 2010 have successfully sued the LAPD for discrimination and retaliation, the LA Times has reported.
Officers Allan Corrales, 35, and George Diego, 34, were awarded $US4 million after successfully arguing that they were discriminated against within the department because they are Latino and the man they shot, 27-year-old Steven Washington, was black.
Washington’s mother received only $US950,000 in a settlement from the city after filing a wrongful death lawsuit back in 2012.
The officers claimed they faced retaliation from the department simply for doing their jobs.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck testified that he had prohibited the officers from returning to the field because he had “no confidence in their ability to perform the duties of a field officer,” not because of their race.
Corrales and Diego were on gang patrol in an unmarked police car when they came across Washington walking alone in the Koreatown neighbourhood of LA a little after midnight in March 2010. After turning around and seeing the car, Washington allegedly gave the officers a “dead stare” and appeared to reach for a “dark object” in his waistband, ignoring commands to put his hands up.
The officers claim they were acting in self-defence when they opened fire. But in 2011, a civilian commission ruled that the officers were not justified in the shooting, AP reported. Washington was unarmed, and the dark object they saw was probably his black mobile phone. He was also autistic, which made him fear strangers, Washington’s family said.
Chief Charlie Beck has had to deal with dozens of use-of-force cases since he took over as the head of the LAPD in November 2009. The department is investigating the August 2014 shooting death of a mentally ill, unarmed black man in South L.A.
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