SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — A 13-year-old boy videotaped in a struggle with an off-duty LAPD officer — who fired his gun — has sued the officer, Anaheim, Los Angeles and both police departments.
Christian Dorscht and his parents claim in Orange County Court that LAPD Officer Kevin Ferguson carried out a 13-minute-long “brutal attack” on him in violation of the boy’s civil rights.
Cellphone videos of the Feb. 21 altercation show Ferguson dragging Christian by his arm and collar across at least one lawn and through a hedge in the residential neighborhood of Anaheim where Ferguson lives. The videos were widely viewed, drawing several hundred people to protests at the scene.
Christian and his parents, John Dorscht and Alma Jimenez, sued only Ferguson in early March. They filed a new complaint June 26 after going through the tort claims process required to sue a government entity in California. They have asked the court to combine the cases.
Their attorney, Elena Medina Torres of Santa Ana, did not return a call about the lawsuits.
New defendants include Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Mike Lyster, Anaheim’s chief communications officer, said in an email that he could not comment on the case in detail.
“Our thoughts go out to all who were impacted by this incident,” he said. “We have completed our review of what happened and submitted our findings to the district attorney’s office. We want to respect that process as it plays out.”
Ferguson’s attorney, John Francis Christl of Newport Beach, said he had not seen the new complaint, but called the first lawsuit “groundless,” and said it was “not supported by any evidence.”
According to the lawsuits and news accounts, the incident began as Christian and friends were walking home from school across lawns in Ferguson’s neighborhood — apparently a sore topic for the off-duty officer.
Ferguson confronted the students and launched “an unreasonable verbal assault” at a girl named Monique, “yelling at her to get off of the lawn [and] calling her profanity (f—) and derogatory (c–t) vulgar words,” the lawsuit states.
Christian interceded and asked him to be nicer to the girl. Ferguson then “began a series of violent and vicious physical battery upon Christian starting with instantly hitting Christian in the private area and holding him,” according to the complaint.
Christian escaped several times but each time Ferguson caught him, grabbed his neck, tripped him and kicked “his private area.” Although they were “up to four houses away” from Ferguson’s home, he dragged the boy back, knowing “as a reasonable police officer would know, that as an individual, Ferguson had no privilege to defend any property but his own,” Christian says in the complaint.
By this point, at least two people were recording the fracas on their cellphones. The videos show teenagers in a wide circle around the pair, several telling Ferguson to let Christian go.
“Other students attempted to distract Ferguson in order to rescue Christian,” the complaint states. The videos show that as Ferguson pulled Christian toward a hedge between properties, a taller boy grabbed the officer’s arm, apparently asking him to let Dorscht go.
Then a second boy ran in from the side and knocked Ferguson down and back into the hedge. Ferguson got up, still hanging on to Dorscht, as the taller boy tried to pull Christian away. He threw a punch at Ferguson, which the officer easily blocked.
At that point, Ferguson reached into his waistband, pulled out a pistol and fired it once at the ground.
According to news accounts, Ferguson has said he understood Christian threatened to “shoot” him. In the lawsuit, however, Christian says he has a speech impediment and had said only that he would “sue” Ferguson.
When Anaheim officers arrived a few minutes later, they arrested Christian and the taller boy and let Ferguson go.
Christian says Anaheim police did not question any witnesses and did not read him his rights. He says his parents didn’t learn whether he had been shot until hours after his arrest.
The district attorney did not file charges against either boy.
The Dorschts seek treble and punitive damages for assault and battery, kidnapping, excessive force, negligence, emotional distress and violations of civil rights laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act.