Crime & Justice

LAPD shooting: Family files $10M claim after Burbank police chase leads to shooting death

Police say an officer opened fire on a car-theft suspect who collided with their patrol car in the early morning Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Police say an officer opened fire on a car-theft suspect who collided with their patrol car in the early morning Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Courtesy NBC4

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The family of an unarmed man who was fatally shot by an LAPD officer last month in Burbank has filed a $10 million claim against the department and the city of Los Angeles.

Police say officer Brian Van Gorden opened fire on Sergio Navas after a pursuit that began in North Hollywood and ended in both vehicles crashing in a Burbank cul de sac. 

“At the time of the shooting, Sergio Navas was unarmed, and he did not pose a risk of death or serious bodily injury to any person,” the claim states.

LAPD officers tried to pull Navas, 36, over for reckless driving around 1:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, according to the department. The pursuit lasted six minutes, ending in Navas’ vehicle and the patrol car colliding.

The vehicles ended up parallel to each other. Van Gorden, who was on the passenger side and was unable to get out, shot Navas from inside the patrol car, the LAPD said.

Navas ran into a nearby alley and collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We think this was another case of where the LAPD officer involved simply overreacted,” said attorney Dale Galipo, who represents Navas’ parents and three minor children.

The LAPD has offered few details of why Van Gorden fired his weapon.

"As a police officer, having another vehicle hit you […] can be very intense and can be a situation which can obviously escalate into something else,” LAPD spokesman Jack Richter said after the shooting.

He noted Navas’ car had a temporary paper license plate.

"Quite often, we see a vehicle with paper plates — from our training experience, we see that quite often with vehicles that are used in a crime,” he said.

The two officers who received minor injuries were treated at the scene.

The coroner has yet to release an autopsy of Navas, whose car turned out to be stolen.

The city of Los Angeles has 45 days to settle the claim before the family can file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

This story has been updated.