Suit filed over shooting of mentally ill man by L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies

Police carLos Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies are accused of shooting a mentally ill teenager in the street in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court just two weeks after the county settled a 2009 shooting case for $8.85 million.

The lawsuit also comes on the heels of an agreement by the department to release deputy-involved shooting records to the county’s Office of Inspector General.

The lawsuit claims Fernando Escobedo, 19, was shot and killed by deputies on Nov. 30, 2014.  Escobedo was known to the department through past brushes with the law. Shortly before his death, his mother had sought help from the Sheriff’s Department and explained his mental health problems, the complaint says.

A video of the shooting obtained by CalWatchdog appears to show Escobedo running from the home of his mother, Hilda Alvarez, away from two squad cars parked in front of the home and into the path of two other arriving squad cars.

An officer comes out of the last car and points his weapon at Escobedo, who turns and runs away before dropping to the ground. The video is embedded at the bottom of the page. 

From the complaint:

“Ms. Alvarez immediately heard three gunshots and yelled ‘don’t shoot.’ One of the officers then hollered ‘watch your crossfire.’ Immediately thereafter, four more shots were fired at Mr. Escobedo.”

Deputies told local media at the time of the incident that Escobedo charged an officer with a steak knife, which the family disputes. The video does not show the victim charging any of the officers.

The Sheriff’s office did not respond to emails and calls for comment.

The shooting is classified in the department’s database as a “hit shooting incident,” one of three in the month of November 2014. The shooter, unnamed in the lawsuit, was a 50-year-old Hispanic deputy who had been on the force for eight years according to Sheriff’s Department records

The records indicate that Escobedo’s alleged weapon was recovered. They also indicate Escobedo was under the influence and had a criminal history. Records show Escobedo was arrested in July 2014 and charged with possessing stolen property.

The “hit shooting incident” designation does not indicate a fatality. Since 2010, the department has recorded 175 hit shootings, and 91 of them resulted in a fatality, a review of records shows.

In about half of all shooting incidents involving L.A. County deputies since 2010, the suspect had a criminal history.

California counties have worked to open their records in the months since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot in an altercation with a police officer outside St. Louis in 2014.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s office now lists the shootings it reviews. In Kern County, law enforcement and the district attorney’s office hammered out an agreement in July for enhanced review of officer-involved shootings. L.A. County has a database with all deputy-involved shootings. 

In the city of Richmond, a new police chief initiated policies to reduce police shootings, including reviews of all uses of force and providing officers with Tasers and pepper spray to be used as an alternative to a firearm.

California’s law enforcement community has been embroiled in controversies over excessive force, including shootings, for decades.

The violence reached a flash point in the late 90s. A gang unit in the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Department was plagued by beatings of suspects and officer-involved shootings.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in particular, has in the past five years battled with rogue officers.

Three deputies were found guilty in June, 2011 of the beating of a jailhouse visitor. In November, the department paid $8.85 million to the family of Alfredo Montalvo, who was shot by deputies after a brief car chase in 2009.

In October, 2015, a man suspected of driving under the influence was shot. Deputies claimed he began to drive toward them after being pursued and cornered by squad cars. The deceased had no criminal history, according to records.

Since 2009, Los Angeles County has paid out $22 million in 43 wrongful death lawsuits as of July.

The Escobedo complaint alleges that the shooters were not properly trained in dealing with the mentally ill.

“The department fails, refuses and neglects to keep a centralized database of those reported to it as suspected of being mentally ill,” the lawsuit claims. “Neither [past sheriff John] Scott nor [current sheriff Jim] McDonnell provided training necessary for officers faced with the challenge of bringing such people safely under the custody and control of patrol officers, thus placing the mentally ill … at greater risk of death at the time of arrest or when officers seek to question them.”

Norm Pattis, the Connecticut-based lawyer handling the lawsuit for Escobedo’s mother, did not return calls or emails.

Legislation passed in September requires law enforcement officers in California to get more training in handling mental health cases.

The bill requires the state provide at least 15 hours of basic training in dealing with the mentally ill, up from six hours.

Video of Nov. 30, 2014 shooting of Fernando Escobedo:


Write a comment
    NTHEOC 24 December, 2015, 08:29

    The video does not show the victim charging any of the officers.
    The video doesn’t really show much. As far as i can see this guy was surrounded by cops and not following orders to drop the knife, looks like he’s charging multiple officers to me. Again, when a police officer tells you to drop the weapon then do it!! And if you are running with a weapon in hand I hope the officer gets you before you come upon an innocent person. I love the new excuse, he was mentally ill,he was a good boy.

    Reply this comment
    • alex
      alex 25 December, 2015, 21:25

      U mother fucker he had no knife…

      Reply this comment
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous 31 May, 2020, 13:37

      What you don’t know that the weapon in question was in his BACKPACK, something he most likely carried for his protection being a young man in the streets. They got “lucky” that they were able to recover it in the first place so they can use it as a scapegoat.

      Also another piece of information, they deliberately entered the restaurant after this and illegally deleted this footage… why would they need to delete footage if they had nothing to hide?

      Reply this comment
    • Mario
      Mario 12 January, 2022, 00:12

      Your stupid, he didn’t charge at any cop he was scared & he really was mentally ill he was skitso, I went to school with him & know what he was going thru, as u can see he was trying to run away not twords the officers with all due respect I’m sorry but u must be more blind then a bat during the day. He was scared running back and forth like when a kid gets scared when there surrounded?? What if that was ur son, yeah u wouldn’t be saying that knowing he really was mentally ill

      Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 December, 2015, 12:41

    LAPD is averaging about $10 million per year in misconduct pay outs……

    Reply this comment
  3. Ed Ryan
    Ed Ryan 1 June, 2020, 07:02

    Why we Fight for Heart and soul of LA.
    End Racist LA Sheriff Fusion ‘Palantir” EdRyanMayorLA202
    Stop “Police-State” Tech from Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley Oligarch (Demand: Stop “Palantir” Now) EdRyanMayorLA2022

    I’m Ed Ryan, the Los Angeles Democrat candidate for Mayor of LA, 2022. I spent month wrongfully for waging a war against LAPD Vigilantes who attacked and harassed me while I lived on the streets to expose the rancid evil of LAPD Vigilante Stalking and Harassment. LA City Attorney Feuer now also runs for Mayor lying to the people of LA that he cares while working with luxury developers like Rick Caruso, doing and protecting the culture of corruption from the LA City Hall ‘Pay for Play” scam by Mayor Garcetti and the LA City councilors, that now leaves hard-working LA residents without affordable housing. As an advocate for social justice, I have expose racist tactics at the LAPD and the LA Sheriff Department riddled with fascist white supremist gang affiliated Deputies. The LA County Sheriff Department pays Silicon Valley Oligarch, and major Trump supporter, Peter Thiel, for Palantir, the Racist ‘Predictive Crime Policing system, Palantir. Peter Thiel, Like Elon Musk, who forced workers to violate pandemic safety regs, are part of the Silicon Valley Corrupt Billionaire Club who were CIA funded, just as was their great friend, the now deceased oligarch and pedophile, Jeffery Epstein. LA taxpayer is paying for the “Caligula” lifestyle of the CIA protected Silicon Valley Oligarchs as the LA criminal justice systems buys their racist ‘Police-State” policing tools.
    LA Protesters, “Courageous Warriors for Social Justice”. My heart is with you all. We are going to tear the LAPD down and re-build it into the finest “Modern Policing Department’ on Earth. We will show the world how to police without Militaristic corruption. We will eliminate the things about LAPD that make it an abusive and evil system. Reform will happen to end the military trappings of the LAPD. The new and reformed LAPD can make real changes so that police officers in LA are part of the community, and it is no longer “us vs them. We can eliminate the use of military rank and end the days of being policed by people in military garb. We can allow the young to be part of the LAPD command brass by choosing solid “rank and file” officers to lead. The LAPD will no longer be commanded by officers so jaded by age; they are haters hating. We will re-claim our government by expanding the LA City Council to 40 by district. Los Angeles Government needs to be transformed to “Government For, and By the People”. LA Charter reform increasing the size of the LA City Council will go a long way in allowing towards granting LA voters powers of local democracy already granted to voters in NYC and Chicago. The transformative empowerment of uncorrupted “local democracy” can make the LAPD into what the good people of LA deserver. The LAPD a model for “Modern Policing” for cities across America and around the world to emulate. This can be done; it must be done. Please help me do it. Thank You and stay safe.

    Ed Ryan, the LA Activist, Attorney and Political writer for “Social Justice” now running for Mayor of LA as the LAPD, once again seeks to “wrongfully incarcerate” having a bogus a warrant for his arrest. Contact Ed Ryan, [email protected].

    Reply this comment

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