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Criminal Justice

The Family Of An Autistic And Deaf Cudahy Man Who Was Shot By An LA Sheriff's Deputy Plans To Sue

Yajaira Cervantes, one of Isaias' two sisters, calls for justice at Monday's rally. (Robert Garrova/LAist)
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The family of an autistic and deaf man who was shot and wounded by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy last week is planning to sue the county over the incident, according to the family’s attorney.

Relatives said 25-year-old Isaias Cervantes was unarmed and family attorney Austin Dove said he was "completely compliant when he was shot in the back" in his Cudahy home on March 31. Cervantes' mother and his sister, Yajaira, witnessed the incident, according to Judy Mark of Disability Voices United.

Cervantes is in the ICU, said his other sister, Yadira, who added that she's worried he won’t walk again.

"It breaks my heart," she said today at a rally outside the Hall of Justice. "We’re really hurt and we have a lot of anger. He was... really happy, so innocent."

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The Sheriff’s department says a deputy shot Cervantes after deputies responded to a "family disturbance call" and Cervantes "attacked one of the deputies[,] gouging at his eyes while attempting to disarm him."

While saying he doesn't yet have enough information to confirm or deny the department’s version of events, Dove said what the family saw and what the deputy reported are very different.

He also criticized the deputies’ tactics.

"[The deputies] were told that he was autistic, told that he was deaf, told that he was unable to respond to cues like everyone else," Dove said. "They get there and within three minutes he's shot in the back on the floor of his living room."

The department’s Mental Evaluation Teams (MET), which consist of a specially-trained deputy and a clinical social worker, do respond to cases involving people with autism, said Lt. John Gannon, who headed up MET until April 1.

But MET was not called to respond in the Cervantes case, and it’s “unclear whether patrol actually knew about the developmental disability factor,” Gannon told us via email.

The Sheriff’s Department said body-worn cameras captured the incident on video and the agency promised in a statement to release the footage "as soon as possible."

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