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Criminal Justice

Cudahy Man With Autism Who Was Shot By Sheriff's Deputy Now Faces Criminal Charges

Isaias Cervantes is wearing a red sports jersey. He stands with his right thump up and left hand petting a horse outside a stable.
Isaias Cervantes
(Courtesy of the Cervantes family )
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Isaias Cervantes, the 25-year-old Cudahy man who was shot and critically injured by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy in March, is now facing criminal charges that include assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

Cervantes, who has autism, was left paralyzed as a result of the shooting, according to his attorney, Austin Dove.

“I just think it’s outrageous — it’s really preposterous — that they would file something like this against a young man like Isaias … [who has] this set of challenges and issues,” Dove said.

What We Know About The Shooting

The incident occurred on March 31 after a family member called 911 and said Cervantes “was having a mental health crisis and creating a disturbance by pushing other family members,” according to a 20-minute narrated video produced by the Sheriff’s Department that includes the 911 call, body cam footage and additional department commentary.

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Body cam video shows Cervantes resisting as two deputies each grab one of his arms in an attempt to handcuff him.

The department says the cameras fell on the floor during the struggle. You can hear one deputy yelling, “He’s going for my gun!” on the footage released by the department.

The other deputy fired a single shot, hitting Cervantes “in the left side of his torso,” according to the department.

The department said one of the deputies suffered “facial abrasions, bilateral eye contusions, corneal abrasions and a cervical sprain.”

Dove, Cervantes’ attorney, said his client is now paralyzed from the middle chest down and has to have a diaper changed several times a day.

The Cervantes family’s filed a lawsuit against the department, but that is now on hold due to the criminal charges. By law, any civil actions must be set aside until a criminal case involving the same incident is resolved.

A ‘Perplexing’ Decision

Legal experts we spoke with questioned both the timing of the criminal charges and the reasoning for filing them in the first place.

The charges against Cervantes were filed on Oct. 15, more than six months after the incident occurred and the family announced its intention to sue. Besides the assault charge, Cervantes faces two counts of resisting an officer by violence.

“You could probably make a decision more quickly than several months — it is an unusually long period of time,” said Stanley Goldman, a professor of law at Loyola Law School.

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Jamelia Morgan, who teaches law at UC Irvine, agreed that it was unusual to see charges come so long after the actual incident. Morgan also said filing criminal charges against Cervantes did not seem on message for L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, who has largely pursued a progressive, less punitive agenda in his first year of office.

“This particular decision is perplexing,” Morgan said.

DA spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in an emailed statement that the charges are “based upon our review of all the available evidence presented related to the incident and the conduct that occurred.” He did not elaborate further.

The Sheriff’s Department has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Dove said Cervantes arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 12.

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