The Los Angeles County Claims Board has recommended paying $5.3 million to the family of Jose de la Trinidad, an unarmed man who was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in 2012. The Board of Supervisors, which typically accepts the board’s recommendations, will vote to approve the deal the deal Tuesday.
This would settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family that claimed deputies opened fire on Trinidad, even though he had his hands in the air and his back to deputies.
“He had not violated any law and posed no risk to deputies,” the lawsuit said. “He exited a vehicle and obeyed the instructions of deputies to stop and raise his hands.”
He had two daughters — ages 3 and 6 — at the time of his death. Relatives say he held down two jobs to support them and his wife.
In February, the board agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of Arturo Cabrales, who was also fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy.
Trinidad, 36, had left a family quinceañera a few minutes earlier on Nov. 10, riding with his older brother who was driving the car, according to his attorney. Two deputies tried to pull the car over for a traffic violation around 10:20 p.m. in the Willowbrook neighborhood near Compton, but the driver sped off.
A case summary provided to the Board of Supervisors by the County Counsel says deputies claimed they saw Trinidad’s brother hand him a gun during the first attempted stop.
After a short chase, Trinidad got out of the car on 122nd Street, “with his hands in his waistband,” according to the summary. His brother sped off again.
“He (Trinidad) immediately twisted his upper body to the left while crouching over,” the summary said. “Two deputy sheriffs, believing the decedent was reaching for a firearm in order to shoot at them, discharged their (d)epartment-issued duty weapons.”
No gun was ever found. Deputies shot him seven times. Five bullets struck him in the back.
In May, the L.A. County District Attorney’s office concluded the two deputies “acted in lawful self-defense and defense of another when they used deadly force.”
The Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau has yet to conclude its review of the incident to determine if the deputies violated department policy, according to the summary.
“I want for justice to be served to Jose,” his wife, Rosie de la Trinidad, said at the time. “I know my husband. He was a great man, a great family man, such a beautiful person.”