LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The mother and sister of a 25-year-old mentally ill man are suing Los Angeles County and two sheriff's deputies, stemming from the March shooting of the man at his Cudahy home, an incident they say left him paralyzed.
Rosa Padilla, the mother and conservator of Isaias Cervantes, and his sister, Yajaira Cervantes, brought the suit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, naming as defendants the county and Deputies David Vega and Jonathan Miramontez. The allegations include civil rights violations, battery, assault, negligence, false arrest, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent retention, training and supervision.
Cervantes also is a plaintiff and his mother is acting as his guardian. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Defendants Vega and Miramontez deliberately incited a crisis where there had been calm, irrationally panicked, then recklessly shot their way out of an imagined danger,'' according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The LASD previously reported that deputies were called at about 8:40 p.m. March 31 to a home in the 5100 block of Live Oak Street after a caller said Cervantes was experiencing a mental health crisis and was causing a disturbance by pushing other family members.
The caller also told a dispatcher that Cervantes had obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety and was hard of hearing, deputies said.
Two deputies approached the home and asked Cervantes to come outside with them, but when he declined they entered the home and attempted to detain him with handcuffs, according to the department. An LASD video then shows Cervantes fighting with the deputies with both body cameras falling to the floor.
One of the deputies can be heard in the video saying, “He's going for my gun, he's going for my gun,'' and the other deputy can then be heard asking, “Does he have your gun?''
The first deputy did not answer and one shot is heard being fired.
According to the lawsuit, Cervantes' sister was the one who called 911 and she “plainly and specifically requested mental health support'' for her sibling after telling the dispatcher her brother was deaf and disabled, according to the suit.
Vega and Miramontez were met on the sidewalk outside the home by Padilla and Cervantes' therapist, the suit states.
After Padilla told the deputies that her son was afraid of LASD deputies because he believed they often harm people and he feared they would harm him, Vega's demeanor became “noticeably more aggressive,'' the suit states.
The deputies entered the home, went into the living room, flanked Cervantes and told him to stand up, the suit states. They began handcuffing him, causing him to turn away, the suit states.
Miramontez grabbed Cervantes around the neck and pushed him to the floor, causing Cervantes to lose his hearing aid, according to the suit.
The suit also accuses Miramontez of falsely saying that Cervantes was going for his gun. The deputy's holster has a dual safety lock system that prevents the gun from being removed by anyone in the position Cervantes found himself, the suit states.
Nonetheless, Vega, “encouraged'' by Miramontez, drew his gun, pressed it against Cervantes' back and fired, causing a bullet to tear through Cervantes' lungs and spine, the suit states.
Cervantes was left paralyzed, bullet fragments remain imbedded in his back and he can no longer control his bowels or urine, according to the suit.
Padilla went to the hospital to visit Cervantes on April 1 and was blocked from doing so by a “phalanx of LASD deputy sheriffs, who told her she could not visit (her son) because he was in criminal custody of the Los Angeles (County) Sheriff's Department,'' the suit states.
However, no criminal charges were ever filed against Cervantes, the plaintiffs say.
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