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Three Families Sue SoCal Cops for Killings

LOS ANGELES (CN) - As protests simmered down in Ferguson, Mo. on the day before Thanksgiving, three families filed federal lawsuits in Southern California, accusing police forces there of unjustified killings.

The family of the late Lorenzo Cesar Aguilar claim that police from Azusa, Irwindale, Covina and/or Glendora shot Aguilar to death without cause on Nov. 29, 2013.

Estate representative Annette Aguilar claims that police shot Aguilar to death outside a restaurant in Azusa at about 9 p.m., though his armed were raised in surrender. He was 23.

"Lorenzo was unarmed and in the process of returning home after purchasing his dinner at Santana's Restaurant. At no time was he ever a threat to any persons or entities," the complaint states.

Aguilar was an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and had no criminal history, according to the lawsuit. Police shot at him 35 times with "high-powered assault rifles," then prevented paramedics from helping him, the complaint states.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department told a different story.

The day after the shooting, the Sheriff's Department said that Azusa police had tried to stop a suspected drunk driver, who "neglected to yield and evaded officers for a brief time."

Eventually, the driver stopped and "the male Hispanic adult suspect exited armed with a handgun and began to walk away from officers," the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The sheriff said the suspect "failed to comply with orders and turned towards officers with the handgun in hand, at which time the officer-involved shooting occurred. ... A handgun was recovered from the suspect."

The Aguilars seek damages for wrongful death, civil rights violations and other claims. They are represented by Martin Kaufman in Los Angeles Federal Court.

Also on the day before Thanksgiving, the family of the late Kevin Arellano sued the City of Santa Ana and its Police Chief Carlos Rojas, in L.A. Federal Court.

The family claims that Santa Ana police shot Arellano to death on July 30, 2013, "for no reason and without reasonable suspicion or probably cause," while trying to arrest him.

The Orange County District Attorney in June this year declined to prosecute the officer who killed Arellano, finding that she believed her life was in danger.

The District Attorney's Office found that Arellano's blood alcohol content was .26 percent when he died, the Orange County Register reported.

The District Attorney's Office said that Arellano agued with a Santa Ana police officer who ordered him to go away or be arrested for drinking in public. Arellano fled, and ended up running toward Santa Ana police Officer Jessica Guidry, who said she feared he would overpower her, and shot him from about 3 feet away.

But the Arellanos claim that "a reasonable officer" would not have thought that Arellano "posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm" to the officers or anyone else.

They seek damages for wrongful death, excessive force, civil rights violations and other charges. They are represented by Luis Carrillo of South Pasadena.

In the third case, the family of the late Clyde R. Murray sued San Bernardino County, its Sheriff Rodney Hoops and Det. Joshua Smith, who allegedly shot Murray to death on Nov. 30, 2012.

The family claims that Smith shot Murray to death while trying to arrest him on East Highland Avenue. They claim the defendants "did not have probable cause or reason to believe that either they, or anyone else, were in danger of being killed by decedent or sustaining severe bodily harm," and/or had not "taken reasonable, proper and accepted precautions and safeguards when detaining or taking into custody defendant."

Thee family claims that if the defendants say Smith was acting in self-defense, then his use of force "was unreasonably excessive and deliberately indifferent."

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office in April this year declined to prosecute Smith for the shooting.

Smith claimed he shot Murray because he wouldn't show his hands and reached for his waistband, according to the district attorney's report .

The Sheriff's Department told newspapers at the time that police were looking for Murray because he was suspected of armed robbery while on parole.

The Murrays seek damages for conspiracy, excessive force, municipal and supervisory liability and interference with familial relationship.

They are represented by Milton Grimes, of San Bernardino.

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