LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal jury awarded a Southern California family $3.6 million Monday after finding their loved one, a father of three, did not point a gun at officers who shot him 17 times in 2015.
At the time, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officers said Nicholas Robertson, 28, pointed a gun at them while he was in the LA-area city of Lynwood. Robertson did have a gun during incident on Dec. 12, 2015, according to the family’s attorney, but the fatal shooting as seen from cellphone footage taken across the street showed he was walking away from officers when they started.
The family’s attorney, Brian Dunn with the Cochran Firm, said officers are trained to fire two- or three-round bursts and then stop.
“They did not do that here,” Dunn said in a statement after Monday’s verdict.
Instead, officers fired 33 rounds and hit Robertson 17 times. A defense forensic pathologist testified only two of the shots that struck Robertson were fatal: the last two shots that struck him.
“So what that means is over a 24-second period in which Mr. Robertson is being shot – those are all non-fatal gunshots – he could have lived if they had just not kept shooting him again and again and again and again. He could have lived because he suffered 15 non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and only two fatal and they were at the very end,” Dunn said.
Graphic video shot with a cellphone from across the street showed officers aimed and fired about 10 to 15 yards away from Robertson, who fell to the ground and crawled on the street in front of an Arco gas station. Two officers continued to shoot in a hail of gunfire that lasted about 24 seconds.
Dunn filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Robertson’s children in April 2016 against LA County and officers Jasen Tapia and Richard Ochoa-Garcia.
The sheriff’s department did not return a phone call seeking comment.