L.A. set­tles over death of ar­restee

City Coun­cil OKs $990,464 for Omar Abrego’s fam­ily, who al­leged un­law­ful force.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Cindy Chang and Emily Alpert Reyes

The city of Los An­ge­les will pay nearly $1 mil­lion to set­tle a law­suit brought by the fam­ily of Omar Abrego, who died af­ter a con­fronta­tion in South L.A. with po­lice of­fi­cers try­ing to ar­rest him.

Abrego’s death was one of two in Au­gust 2014 that drew out­rage from ac­tivists protest­ing killings by po­lice. Abrego died about a week be­fore Ezell Ford, a men­tally ill black man, was fa­tally shot by of­fi­cers just a few blocks from where Abrego was taken into cus­tody.

Coroner’s of­fi­cials de­ter­mined that Abrego, 37, died from the ef­fects of co­caine but listed the “phys­i­cal and emo­tional duress” of the al­ter­ca­tion as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

On Wed­nes­day, the City Coun­cil ap­proved a $990,464 pay­ment to Abrego’s widow and three chil­dren, who al­leged in their law­suit that two LAPD gang sergeants used “un­rea­son­able and un­law­ful force” while ar­rest­ing him Aug. 2, 2014.

The en­counter with Abrego be­gan when some­one flagged down Sgts. Jeff Mares and Robert Calderon to re­port a sus­pi­cious white ve­hi­cle in an al­ley, ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary by LAPD Chief Char­lie Beck.

The sergeants no­ticed a white van run­ning a stop sign and nearly hit­ting a pedes­trian, the re­port said. As they fol­lowed the van, the er­ratic driv­ing con­tin­ued. When they pulled up next to the van, Abrego jumped out and at­tempted to flee.

One of the sergeants grabbed Abrego in a “bear hug,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Abrego broke free, then punched the sergeant in the chest, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The sergeant re­sponded by punch­ing Abrego three times in the face and us­ing “var­i­ous ad­di­tional force.”

The other sergeant grabbed Abrego’s arm, and both sergeants took him to the ground as he “con­tin­ued to be com­bat­ive and re­sist,” the re­port said.

The sergeants, along with backup of­fi­cers who had just ar­rived, hand­cuffed Abrego and tied his legs to­gether. The sergeants said they be­lieved Abrego was un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs be­cause he was sweaty, wide-eyed and seemed ag­i­tated.

At the hos­pi­tal, doc­tors di­ag­nosed Abrego with kid­ney fail­ure and a toxic break­down of mus­cle tis­sue, ac­cord­ing to his au­topsy re­port. He was also treated for a se­vere con­cus­sion, cuts, bruises and “co­caine tox­i­c­ity.”

He died the next morn­ing.

The Los An­ge­les Po­lice Com­mis­sion has ruled that the two sergeants acted within depart­ment pol­icy. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, pros­e­cu­tors an­nounced that the sergeants would not be crim­i­nally charged.

cindy.chang@la­times.com Twit­ter: @cindy­changLA emily.alpert@la­times.com Twit­ter: @LATimesEmily

Cheryl A. Guerrero Los An­ge­les Times

OMAR ABREGO’S death in Au­gust 2014 in South L.A. came about a week be­fore the fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing of Ezell Ford. Above, a 2015 protest of the in­ci­dents.

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