Gang Member’s Family Receives $3.2M for Wrongful Death
After a fight with LAPD officers on the evening of Feb. 3, 2007, Mauricio Cornejo collapsed in a holding cell at the Hollenbeck police station. He died hours after a confrontation with police following a foot chase through Boyle Heights that was instigated by officers stopping Cornejo for a broken taillight.
The police engaged in what they referred to as a “knock-down, drag-out fight” after they witnessed Cornejo, a documented gang member on parole at the time, throw away a handgun-it lasted for over 15 minutes.
The county coroner’s report backed up the city attorney’s office’s testimony at trial that Cornejo’s death was a result of the physical strain of resisting officers in addition to being under the effects of drug intoxication, specifically methamphetamine and cocaine.
But prosecutors presented evidence that included video from cellphones and the station’s surveillance equipment and testimony from a Ventura County chief medical examiner, Ronald O’Halloran. O’Halloran testified that the officers’ force was a direct cause of Cornejo’s death, especially the baton blows to his back and midsection.
There are conflicting reports on Cornejo’s condition during his time at the station. The officers maintain that they carried him because he was unwilling to walk on his own, while the prosecution accuse officers of ignoring his condition and pretending he was alive to avoid calling an ambulance to take Cornejo to the local L.A. County-USC Medical Center.
Cornejo’s sister pointed out after the payout was awarded on Tuesday, March 20 that Cornejo was a “son, a brother, an uncle and a father.” But he was also a documented gang member who was on parole for another crime. While yes, Cornejo was a human being and deserves to be treated as such, the incident happened while he was evading the police and resisting arrest.
Do you feel that the family deserved a settlement from the LAPD? Do you think what they received was too much, or do you think that you can’t put a number on a human life? Do you feel that the police acted correctly in the situation? Or do you feel that they callously ignored Cornejo’s condition? Please let us know in the comments section, below.
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