Jury awards $2 million to family of Azusa man killed by deputy

Richard Winton | October 1, 2013

The family of an Azusa man shot to death by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been awarded $2 million by a federal jury.

After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury Monday awarded the money to Mara Eva Gutierrez and Dionico Lara, the parents of Efrain Lara Gutierrez. The jury rejected the defense that the deputy feared for his life from a man with a knife.

Gutierrez, 31, was shot several times by Deputy David Salazar on Oct. 2, 2009, as the deputy investigated possible break-ins to vehicles involving two suspects. Gutierrez died at the scene.

“He was shot in the back,” said Dale Galipo, the family’s lawyer. “But just as importantly, we were able to show to jurors that the deputy wasn’t near him. The blood trail is 26 feet long. He was running away, not toward, the deputy when he was shot.”

The department asserted that Salazar fired because Gutierrez was armed with a knife and just a few feet from the deputy when he turned and threatened him. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office agreed with that assertion and did not file charges against the deputy.

Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said the department stands by the deputies’ action and plans to file motions challenging the verdict and may appeal if necessary.

Read more at: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-deputy-jury-20131001,0,2271956.story

Photo credit: Family of Efrain Gutierrez / October 1, 2013

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