Jurors have awarded more than $17 million to the family of a Compton man who was shot to death by an off-duty police officer in 2008.
Raymond Jones, 21, was fatally shot by off-duty LAPD Officer Gildardo Serrano after Jones attempted to pull a gun on Serrano at a house party in Compton, California, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The jury ruled that Serrano used excessive force when he shot Jones, who was unarmed, according to a May 24 press release by prosecutors.
“The jury concluded that Officer Serrano intended to kill Ray Jones,” said John Quinn, the attorney for the Jones family. “Officer Serrano was totally out of control the night Ray Jones was killed.”
Serrano, who works for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, testified that he shot Jones because he feared for his life.
“Officer Serrano’s testimony and evidence was that after trying to talk Jones down and then warning him to get away from his gun, Jones lunged at him with the weapon and he discharged his weapon to scare him away from the weapon,” Quinn said.
But video played for the jury showed that Serrano chased Jones outside of the party, while Jones ran past him carrying what appeared to be a gas can, then walked back to Serrano with the gun.
“From the security camera footage presented in court, it is evident that Jones did not reach for the gun, but had simply reached for a gas can. The video also shows that Jones did not rush towards Serrano. He approached him calmly, not aggressively, and proceeded to sit on a curb with his arms near his sides,” the release said.
Jones dropped the gun and was trying to get it out of his shirt when Serrano shot him, prosecutors said.
As part of the agreement, Serrano will have to pay Jones’ family approximately $7 million in compensatory damages and the other $9 million in punitive damages, Quinn said.
Serrano was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Serrano had resigned from the LAPD on the day of the shooting.
The incident was a familiar tale in the nation’s largest police department. The Los Angeles Police Department is under increased scrutiny after a report found evidence that officers used excessive force in 120 cases in the 2016 fiscal year, resulting in 49 people killed.