LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The lawyer for the 13-year-old boy paralyzed when he was shot by a police officer said today the teenager simply cried when a jury handed him a record $24 million verdict against the Los Angeles Police Department.
"He cried. He was in disbelief," said Arnaldo Casillas, the attorney for Rohayent Gomez. "It was pretty satisfying for me, to tell you the truth."
"The city offered $5,000 during the settlement conference," Casillas said. "It wasn't even insulting. it was ridiculous. They (the City of Los Angeles) have no sense of reality. The physical evidence against the officer was truly amazing."
The case centered on a December 2010 encounter in which Officer Victor Abarca and his partner were on patrol in Glassel Park shortly before 8 p.m.
The officers -- who told investigators they were in search of gang and graffiti activity -- came upon Gomez and two of his friends on a street. Each of the boys had air soft pistols that fired small plastic pellets and were made to look like actual guns.
Witnesses told jurors that when the officers arrived they immediately drew their weapons. Gomez, who was hiding behind a parked van to reload his pellet gun, was unaware of police and was startled when Abarca came around the side of the van.
Witnesses said the officer gave one command ordering Gomez not to move and then fired a single shot, striking the child in his chest.
Last year, Abarca was cleared by the Los Angeles Police Commission.
"They're going to challenge the (jury's) verdict," Casillas said. "There's no doubt in my mind. I don't think they'll be successful, but that's their M.O."
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