Reggie Doucet's Family Files 'Wrongful Death' Lawsuit Against City of Los Angeles, LAPD
Updated after the jump: Doucet's lawyer says this is not about race -- just poor LAPD tactics.
Four months after an LAPD officer shot unarmed 25-year-old Playa Vista resident Reginald "Reggie" Doucet to death outside his apartment around 3:30 a.m., Doucet's family has hired the Cochran Firm to represent his case in court.
Attorney Jamon Hicks tells Reel Urban News that the family will sue the City of Los Angeles for civil-rights violations and wrongful death by the LAPD.
Though some originally speculated that Doucet -- who was reportedly running around naked after refusing to pay his cab fare -- could have been under the influence of a drug that made him particularly combative and powerful, Hicks says toxicity tests prove otherwise:
He tells Reel Urban News that the tests "came back nagative for the drugs PCP or cocaine."
The law firm will argue in federal court that since LAPD officers were not responding to a violent crime, and had reason to believe that Doucet was mentally unstable, they were wrong to react as extremely as they did.
"Based on their background, their training and experience, they should have then addressed the situation as a person who may be mentally ill, who is not a threat to their safety or the safety of anyone else," Hicks says in a video interview.
From the original police report:
On January 14, 2011, at around 3:30 a.m., LAPD officers working patrol in the Pacific Area initially responded to a "Business Dispute" radio call in the 5200 block of Crescent Park West. As the officers were responding to the call, additional citizens called to report a "415 man causing a disturbance." Upon arrival the officers were directed and located the naked suspect, a male Black, 25- years old, behaving erratically. The officers attempted to speak and detain the suspect, however the suspect ran away and the officers followed the suspect on foot. The suspect ran to another location where he found his shorts and put them on. The officers tried again to talk and detain the suspect, who again ran to another apartment complex a very short distance away.
When the officers attempted to detain the suspect in the apartment complex doorway, the suspect immediately attacked the officers. During the fight the suspect aggressively punched both officers in the face and head. [Update: The police report was revised a few hours later to include: LAPD's Force Investigation Division will be conducting a thorough investigation. Preliminary information indicates that the officer's were fighting for their lives. During the fight the suspect repeatedly punched both officers in the face and head and at one point tried to take one of the officer's guns.] One officer, a male Black, 17 months with LAPD, shot the suspect to stop the attack. The second officer, a male Asian, 5 years with LAPD, was also physically battered and dazed during the incident. The Officers took the suspect into custody and immediately called for medical assistance.
Both officers suffered only minor injuries.
Doucet was a former college football star who moved to L.A. to work as a model and personal trainer.
"We cannot bring Mr. Doucet back to his family," Hicks says. "What we can try to do, as best as possible, is place his daughter in a position that she would have been had the shooting never occurred. Financially is the only way, because we cannot bring her that love, that guidance, that support -- emotionally -- that she would have had if her father was not tragically killed."
Since January, the firm's investigators have concluded that Doucet had taken a cab from the W Hotel, but had not attended its attached Dre's nightclub on the night of the shooting. When the cab arrived at his apartment, Doucet allegedly wanted to go inside to get some money, but the cabbie wouldn't let him. Hicks thinks the 25-year-old possibly stripped naked as collateral.
Says Hicks: "Whether it's a result of inadequate training by the Los Angeles Police Department, or that the officers violated their training ... this is a situation where Mr. Doucet's rights were violated because he was not treated the way he should have been treated ... under the totality of the circumstances."
LAPD media relations tells the Weekly that the department does not comment on lawsuits, but that the investigation into Doucet's death is ongoing.
Update: We asked Hicks how, exactly, Doucet's civil rights were violated, and if the shooting might have had anything to do with him being black, as many argued at the time.
Hicks explains that the victim's "Fourth Amendment civil rights were violated because it was an unreasonable seizure of his person," and that his daughter's 14th Amendment rights were vicariously violated as well.
However, the firm does not plan to pull the race card. Instead, this is about poor tactics on the part of the LAPD officers, one of whom was a rookie on the force.
"The officers that responded to the scene were told that [Doucet] was either on drugs or mentally ill," says Hicks. "I handle a lot of cases dealing with the mentally ill. You just do not rush on someone... when something could happen to the subject, but also yourself."
Hicks expects an answer from the City of L.A. within the next three weeks, and hopes all evidence -- police investigation, witness reports, coroner's tests -- will be readied by the beginning of 2012 so the hearings can commence.
One thing he says he does know for sure: At least one of the officers had a taser.
"They considered other options, but for some reason, abandoned their training and went from lower levels of force to the highest level of force," he says.
Doucet was completely naked when he was shot to death at close range in the wee hours of January 14. For the full story, see: "Reggie Doucet Jr, 25-Year-Old Hollywood Model And College Football Star, Shot To Death By LAPD In Front Of Playa Vista Home."
Originally posted April 13 at 5:40 p.m.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.