Unarmed Man Disfigured By LAPD Shooting In Los Feliz Speaks Out In Video
A man who was shot in the head by an LAPD officer last year in Los Feliz has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the police department and the city of Los Angeles, according to a video statement released last night by Geragos & Geragos Law.
Walter DeLeon, a 49-year-old handyman, was walking along Griffith Park Boulevard last June when he flagged down a pair of LAPD officers in a passing cruiser. The officers wrongly believed DeLeon was threatening them with a firearm. They opened fire, severely injuring the unarmed DeLoen. DeLeon was carrying only a water bottle and a towel.
DeLeon was hospitalized in critical condition. Aside from undergoing nine surgeries, DeLeon spent two weeks in a coma, lost an eye, and lost hearing in his right ear, according to KABC.
The lawsuit states that DeLeon lost one pound of brain-matter, the ability to walk and a significant portion of his cognitive functions. He suffers post-traumatic flashbacks to the shooting, and requires constant care.
"This complaint gives me a voice for the people who are weak," DeLeon said in his video statement. "There are hundreds who did not make it, who are no longer living. So I'm here for that purpose, to be heard and to bring change to the law enforcement departments as to how they go about enforcing the law."
Per KABC, DeLeon's attorneys have asked for a jury trial to assess monetary compensation for general damages, special damages, punitive and exemplary damages, as well as money for the cost of the lawsuit and attorney fees. DeLeon is being represented by Geragos & Geragos.
LAPD asserts that DeLeon appeared aggressive back when the shooting first occurred on June 19, 2015. LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said in a statement at the time how "Mr. DeLeon approached the police car in an aggressive manner with his hands, or hand, wrapped in a piece of cloth."
For the patrol officers in the car, DeLeon’s actions signaled that he was armed. They immediately pulled over, exited the car and, according to witnesses, began repeatedly shouting at DeLeon to “drop the gun.” DeLeon didn’t have a gun, but that didn’t stop officer Cairo Palacios from opening fire. Witnesses at the time heard four gunshots, according to KNBC.
Within seconds of the shooting, LAPD officers grabbed the immobile DeLeon, flipped his limp and bloodied body over in the grass, and handcuffed him. A passing driver caught the following graphic video of the handcuffing: