The family of a man slain by an L.A. County sheriff's deputy was awarded $1.5 million in a settlement Wednesday, according to the family's attorney.
Arturo Cabrales, 22, was shot and killed at his South L.A. home in March 2012. According to the federal lawsuit filed by his family, Cabrales was unarmed and was running away when he was shot by Deputy Anthony Paez.
“There's a sense of vindication on behalf of the family,” said plaintiff's attorney Andrew Ellis. “It's also a sense of relief.”
The suit alleged that Paez and other deputies involved in the shooting were associated with the Regulators, a deputy clique operating out of the Century station. The suit blamed former Sheriff Lee Baca and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka for giving tacit support to such cliques. Tanaka is a candidate for sheriff in the November election.
Paez is no longer with the department. In April, he and another deputy, Julio Martinez, were charged with conspiracy and perjury for allegedly planting guns at a medical marijuana dispensary to justify an arrest. Those charges are still pending. Paez and Martinez were both terminated in February 2013.
Ellis contends the two cases add up to a pattern of false reports and planted evidence. In the shooting case, the lawsuit alleged that Cabrales was standing inside the gate of his home, near the Jordan Downs housing project, when he saw four deputies harassing his uncle.
Paez, one of the deputies, began talking to Cabrales and tried to enter his property. Cabrales objected that the deputies did not have a warrant, at which point Paez answered in “foul, offensive and intimidating language,” saying that he did not need a warrant. Paez forcibly entered the gate, and Cabrales turned and ran. Paez then opened fire, according to the suit. Ellis said Cabrales was hit twice in the side and four times in the back.
The suit alleged that other deputies then tried to cover up the shooting. According to Ellis, Martinez was involved in crafting an account of the incident in which Cabrales was said to have had a gun and thrown it over a fence as he fled. A gun was found on the neighbor's property. Ellis said that a medical examiner testified that it would have been impossible for Cabrales to throw it there.
The settlement agreement still must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors.
Tanaka took 15 percent of the vote in the June primary. He will face Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, who received 49 percent, in November.
Throughout the campaign, Tanaka has denied that he ever condoned or encouraged abuses or other illegal behavior. The lawsuit cited the report of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence, which faulted Tanaka for encouraging deputies to “function right to the edge of the line” and “operate in the gray area.”