The family of an unarmed man shot and killed by police in North Hollywood in February has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, alleging officers improperly fired their weapons.
In the civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the parents and child of Moises De La Torre allege police had no reason to feel threatened during an altercation with the 26-year-old Altadena man and are seeking unspecified damages from the city as well as personally from the officers involved in the shooting death.
According to police reports at the time of the incident, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood Division responded around 6:45 p.m. Feb. 24 to a call of a man with a gun in the area of Vineland Avenue and Archwood Street. A female 9-1-1 caller reported she had been approached by a man who threatened to kill her and then reached into a bag he was carrying. She said she believed it was to retrieve a gun.
When they arrived, officers found De La Torre standing in lanes of traffic, according to a statement issued by the department afterward. Police instructed him to drop the bag, but De La Torre failed to do so, and officers said he allegedly moved forward, threatening to kill them. He reached into the bag, and officers opened fire.
De La Torre was transported to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where he was pronounced dead.
LAPD's Force Investigation Division began an inquiry into the case and reported that no handgun was recovered at the scene.
In an email Monday, Officer Norma Eisenman of LAPD's media relations section said the department could not comment because the case is ongoing.
"We are in the very early stages of conducting our own investigation," Jamon Hicks, one of two attorneys with the Cochran Firm, which is representing the family, said in a telephone interview. "But whenever you have an unarmed man shot by police, you have to look into it."
The family filed a claim for damages with the city in March, but that claim was denied, leading them to file the lawsuit, Hicks said.
The City Attorney's Office has filed a response, denying the lawsuit's claims and asking that it be dismissed. ___