Here is an interesting case--not because of the circumstances or even because of the amount of the award, but rather because the court proceedings have revealed something about the character of the sheriff's department and the county. To quote the attorney in the case, "The county showed no interest in settling the case prior to trail, he said." This means that at numerous points during the process, when the county had the possibility of resolving the case out of court, they refused to do so. Which means that they insisted on putting the shooting victim through the traumatic experience of suing the county and reliving the experience numerous times. It also means that they had no regard for the taxpayers of the county, who instead of paying a smaller sum that still would've allowed the victim to survive, were instead forced to pay a considerable amount.
Here's a clip from the P-E:
RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Man shot by deputy awarded $7.8 million
June 11, 2014 by Jeff Horseman
Rosemary Guerrero, of Bakersfield, pushes her son William Howard to a news conference Wednesday, June 11, outside the U.S. District Court in Riverside. A federal jury awarded Howard $7.81 million in a civil case after he was shot by a Riverside County sheriff's deputy in 2011. STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Rosemary Guerrero, of Bakersfield, pushes her son William Howard to a news conference Wednesday, June 11, outside the U.S. District Court in Riverside. A federal jury awarded Howard $7.81 million in a civil case after he was shot by a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy in 2011. STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
A convicted robber partially paralyzed after a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy shot him three years ago won a $7.81 million verdict against the the county and the deputy Wednesday.
An eight-member federal jury awarded the money to William Howard, who was shot in the face while trying to hide from police. Howard, 31, had an outstanding felony warrant at the time.
In a statement, the Sheriff’s Department said it was very disappointed in the verdict and stands by Deputy Armando Munoz, who shot Howard.
“Deputy Munoz, an eight-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, remains employed as a deputy sheriff,” the statement read. “Deputy Munoz was required to make a split second decision in the defense of his life and the department is in support of his decision and actions.”
Howard was the suspect in the 2010 armed robbery of a 62-year-old Los Angeles-area woman in Indian Wells. Howard offered to help the woman, who had left a casino and gotten lost, before pulling a weapon on her and taking her property, authorities said.
Howard, who was considered armed and dangerous at the time, was spotted on the afternoon of April 7, 2011 in the area of Tahquitz Road and Cathedral Canyon in Cathedral City, according to a sheriff’s news release on the incident. Howard ran when officers tried to arrest him, authorities said.
“The officers lost sight of the suspect and began searching the area on foot after establishing a perimeter,” the news release read. “The suspect lunged at one officer from a hiding place located in a utility room near an apartment complex. He was subsequently shot and injured by the officer.”
According to Howard’s attorneys, a frightened and unarmed Howard didn’t want to confront police and sought refuge in a storage shed closet. Munoz fired once at Howard within a second of opening the closet door, Howard’s lawyers said.
Howard pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to state prison, according to the Sheriff’s Department and court records. It’s unclear how long he served.
As a result of the shooting, Howard suffered a stroke as well as damage to two main arteries and almost died, his lawyers said. He spent 18 months in the hospital, is partially paralyzed on the left side of his body and will need lifelong medical care, they said.
The jury in United States District Court in Riverside delivered the verdict around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after deliberating for about three hours, the lawyers said.
County spokesman Ray Smith said the county disagrees with the verdict. A decision on whether to appeal will be explored, he said.
In a news conference outside the federal courthouse in downtown Riverside Wednesday afternoon, Howard, who now lives in Bakersfield, said justice prevailed.
“It’s been crazy. It’s bad,” he said as he sat in a wheelchair pushed by his mother. “I pray that no one has to go through what I’ve been through.”
Howard’s speech was slurred, and the right side of his skull still shows the gunshot’s effects.
Dale K. Galipo, Howard’s lead attorney, said the verdict “means a lot on a lot of levels.”
“It signals hope for a lot of people that are either the victims of police misconduct or feel that the police always win,” the Woodland Hills-based attorney said.
A lot of officer-involved shootings have occurred in the county, Galipo said, adding his firm is currently handling six cases against the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The county showed no interest in settling the case prior to trail, he said.
“I’m hoping that with more verdicts like this, it will get the attention of the County of Riverside and the Sheriff’s Department and make them realize that the general community is not accepting the shooting of unarmed people,” Galipo said.