Judge Lifts Stay on Man's Civil Suit in Wake of Dismissed Criminal Charges

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A lawsuit filed against Los Angeles County and two sheriff's deputies by a man who alleges he was left paralyzed during a deputy-involved shooting last March at his Cudahy home can resume in the wake of the dismissal of criminal charges against the plaintiff stemming from the same incident, a judge ruled today.

Isaias Cervantes, 26, had been charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties and two counts of preventing or resisting an officer's performance of duties with force or violence before the District Attorney's Office dismissed those allegations on Jan. 12.

On Friday morning, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura A. Seigle granted a motion by the plaintiffs' attorneys to life the stay she placed on the case on Nov. 23. At that time, she agreed with defense attorneys that the state Government Code prevents the filing of civil lawsuits that might give the plaintiff an unfair advantage in defending oneself against criminal charges and that civil suits should not be used as bargaining chips in criminal plea negotiations.

Additionally, a stay was appropriate then because a potential conviction could have precluded some of the causes of action in Cervantes' civil case, which include assault, battery, negligence, civil rights violations and that the deputies used violence and unreasonable force, Seigle found.

The suit was filed Aug 9. Other plaintiffs are Rosa Padilla -- the mother and conservator of Cervantes -- and his sister, Yajaira Cervantes. The judge ruled that their individual claims should also be stayed until today.

The deputies named as defendants are David Vega and Jonathan Miramontes.

``Defendants Vega and Miramontes 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.

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.

Vega and Miramontes 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.

Miramontes grabbed Cervantes around the neck and pushed him to the floor, causing Cervantes to lose his hearing aid, according to the suit, which also accuses Miramontes 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 Miramontes, 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.

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