LA County to Settle With Family of Man Killed by LASD Deputies During Mental Health Emergency
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $3.3 million settlement with the family of John Berry, a 31-year-old schizophrenic man killed by LA sheriff’s deputies outside his family’s home in Lakewood.
John’s brother, Chris Berry, a federal law enforcement officer, watched the entire incident unfold. He had called the sheriff’s department’s non-emergency line seeking help for John, who was experiencing a mental health crisis, and was refusing to get out of his car. Chris said that when he requested a mental evaluation team, which would have included a mental health care professional, he was told deputies would be responding instead.
From across the street, a witness filmed the events leading up to the fatal shooting. Berry’s family released the video (above) shortly after John’s death. The video shows least six officers surrounding John’s car. Deputies reached into the car, swinging batons and appearing to Taser the man several times as they attempted to remove him from his vehicle.
Berry reportedly reversed his car and then drove forward. Deputies say Berry rammed his car into a patrol car, pinning an officer between the two vehicles, events that were not caught on film by the witness’ video. Deputies fired what sounds like dozens of rounds into Berry’s car.
The Berry family filed a lawsuit alleging the deputies involved violated John’s civil rights and wrongfully killed him. LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey found the deputies’ actions to be justified. And the US Supreme Court ruled that the officers involved acted lawfully, believing that their fellow officer was in danger.
Last May, a KPCC investigation revealed that members of LA County Sheriff’s Department shot into moving cars at least nine times (the latest tally is ten times), while LAPD officers shot into vehicles only twice during those five years.
In 2016, the sheriff’s department brought its policies regarding shooting at cars in line with those of the LAPD and most other LA area police departments. by barring deputies from firing at moving cars except when threatened by a gun or other deadly weapon. An LASD training video instructs deputies to move out of the way of moving vehicles, explaining that it’s extremely difficult to tell if a driver is attempting to get away or are using their car as a weapon.
Officers Involved in Controversial Shooting No Longer With the Inglewood PD
In February 2016, five Inglewood police officers fatally shot Kisha Michael, 31, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, after officers found the two unconscious in an idling car in the middle of the street.
The five officers involved in the perplexing shooting, Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy and Andrew Cohen, are no longer employed by the Inglewood Police Department, as of the May 28 completion of an internal investigation into the shooting. The statement from Inglewood Mayor James Butts did not say whether the five were fired.
Responding officers reportedly shot Michael, a mother of three, in the head, neck, and back 13 times. Bullets struck Sandlin, a father of four, at least two times. In this case, as in the John Berry incident, officers fired into a car. Michael died at the scene. Sandlin died at the hospital.
In a police radio clip, one of the officers involved said there was a gun in Michael’s lap. Officers reportedly attempted to rouse Michael and Sandlin, attempting to “de-escalate the situation,” according to Butts, NBC Los Angeles’ Patrick Healy reported in the days after the shooting.
Both Michael and Sandlin’s families described the two as loving parents. Their loved ones said they didn’t know why Michael and Sandlin were found with a gun.
A warrant had been issued for Michael’s arrest earlier in February after she violated the terms of her probation by failing to appear in court. (Michael was on probation because of a misdemeanor theft.)
Many of the details surrounding the shooting are still unclear. The autopsy revealed that both deceased had blood alcohol contents above the legal limit for driving. No drugs were found in Sandlin’s system. Michael had traces of amphetamine in her blood.
Following the shooting, Inglewood police remained particularly quiet, giving hardly any information about the circumstances of the shooting. The department never revealed whether either of the deceased reached for the gun before the officers let loose a hail of bullets.