LOS ANGELES (CN) — A federal judge indicated Monday she’s likely to advance a wrongful death lawsuit filed against a Los Angeles Police Department officer, saying a jury should determine whether police were justified in killing a Black man who attorneys say was unarmed and posing no threat to anyone.
Police entered a 24 Hour Fitness in Hollywood on the morning of Oct. 29, 2018, after reports of a man causing a disturbance inside the gym.
Once inside, LAPD officers Edward Agdeppa and Perla Rodriguez found Albert Ramon Dorsey standing naked in the locker room and drying himself off.
The facts surrounding the subsequent events that resulted in the fatal police shooting of Dorsey are heavily disputed.
Paulette Smith, Dorsey’s mother, said in her 2019 lawsuit against the city of LA and Agdeppa that officers began assaulting and battering Dorsey immediately after attempting to unjustifiably detain him.
Dorsey was unarmed and posed no threat that would justify Agdeppa firing the bullets that killed Dorsey, according to the lawsuit, which sought funeral and burial expenses and punitive damages determined by a jury.
Responding to the lawsuit, Agdeppa’s attorneys filed for summary judgment, arguing that Smith’s claims were precluded as a matter of law because Dorsey assaulted gym employees and fought with police after refusing their verbal commands to leave the gym.
Dorsey pinned officer Rodriguez to the ground and struck her multiple times, forcing Agdeppa to use “lethal force in an effort to save his partner’s life,” attorneys said in the summary judgment motion.
“While the taking of a life is never preferred, there are circumstances where such drastic measures are necessary to protect the lives of others — this is such a situation,” the motion said.
The LA Police Commission, an appointed civilian oversight panel, determined in September 2019 that the shooting violated LAPD policy. The finding contradicted the assessment of the case by LA Police Chief Michel Moore.
Commissioners said the officers should have deescalated the situation or not have confronted Dorsey on their own to begin with.
Despite the commission’s finding, a July report by LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey determined Agdeppa’s actions were lawful and that the shooting was in self-defense.
Lacey’s report noted Agdeppa suffered a concussion and a laceration to the bridge of his nose and that Rodriguez had swelling on the left side of her face.
Dorsey was found with Rodriguez’s Taser in his left hand and a handcuff on his right wrist, the report said.
In a telephonic hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder heard arguments on whether the facts established so far entitle Agdeppa and the city of LA to judgment as a matter of law. Granting Agdeppa’s motion would strip a jury of its role in determining judgment in the case.
Snyder said she’s inclined to deny summary judgment because the facts presented so far fail to establish a clear justification for Agdeppa’s use