Judge Won’t Rescind Deal in Oakland Police Death

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge on Tuesday refused to rescind a $450,000 settlement between the city of Oakland and the family of a man killed by police.
     Hernan Jaramillo, 51, shouted “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he died of asphyxiation with five police officers holding him down in front of his Oakland home on July 8, 2013.
     Earlier this month, Jaramillo’s sister Ana Biocini made a tearful plea to U.S District Judge Thelton Henderson, asking him to revoke the deal because not all family members supported the agreement or realized it was final.
     Biocini said she wanted to put the police on trial so the truth would come out and never supported settling but reluctantly agreed because she thought that’s what the rest of her family wanted.
     But two other family members, Felipe and Teresa Jaramillo, said they also rejected the deal but assumed they’d get the chance to discuss it without a judge or attorneys present before it was finalized, the family’s attorney Dewitt Lacy told the judge earlier this month.
     Biocini said she felt especially guilty about her brother’s death because she’s the one who called police the night he was killed.
     Fearing an intruder had broken into their home on the 2300 block of 21st Street that night, Biocini called for help. When officers arrived, she handed them house keys through her bedroom window.
     Upon entering the home, police mistook her brother for an intruder, forced him outside, threw him to the ground and pushed their combined weight on him — ignoring his cries for help, according to Biocini and a leaked video.
     Jaramillo can be heard shouting, “I can’t breathe!” and “They’re killing me!” repeatedly in a police body-cam video released earlier this year. Officers responded by saying, “We’re not killing you,” “Calm down,” and “Relax,” before Jaramillo died.
     In an April 19 ruling, Henderson said that although he sympathizes with the family and Jaramillo’s sister in particular, the motion to rescind the deal “lacks merit.”
     The family members failed to show a mistake, inadvertence, surprise, neglect, fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct by the city of Oakland that would provide grounds for revoking the settlement under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), Henderson said.
     “As the standard for Rule 60 is not met and the court otherwise lacks jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement in this case, there is simply no basis for the court to award the plaintiffs the relief they seek,” Henderson wrote.
     Lacy said he hadn’t had a chance to speak with his clients after the ruling came out Tuesday night, but that he knew there was a lot of anxiety around the court’s pending decision.
     “I do believe much of the family including Ms. Biocini and her family in Columbia will be relieved this is over,” Lacy said. “This has been a tough ordeal for them.”
     Now that the civil suit is over, Lacy said the more pressing question is what action the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will take.
     “What’s going to happen to these officers?” Lacy asked. “Is the DA going to take any action? Is there going to be some policy change from the Oakland Police Department? I hope they will take heed to this tragic loss of life and make changes to their policy so the situation is not replicated in the future.”
     The civil rights attorney said it’s imperative that officers understand the complaints of people they are arresting and don’t disregard a person’s cries for help.
     Alex Katz of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday night.

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