LA County to Consider $3.8M Settlement Over Fatal Struggle with Deputies

Court Settlement

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today will consider paying $3.84 million to settle a lawsuit filed by relatives of a man who went into cardiac arrest and died following a struggle with sheriff's deputies who responded to a call that the man had threatened to kill his mother and sister.

According to sheriff's officials, deputies were called the night of Jan. 6, 2015, to a home on East 123rd Street, where a woman reported that her son was under the influence of drugs and threatening violence. According to an internal county investigation, Brian Pickett's mother told arriving deputies that he had been taking methamphetamine and had threatened to kill her and his sister.

A struggle between Pickett and the deputies ensued, during which Pickett repeatedly resisted arrest, at one point thrashing his arms and legs, and one of the deputies used a Taser in an effort to subdue him, officials said. Pickett, 26, was handcuffed and paramedics were summoned, but Pickett went into cardiac arrest. He died at a hospital.

Pickett's family sued in 2017 in Los Angeles federal court, alleging that deputies had contacted Pickett on prior occasions and knew of his mental illness. But in the 2015 encounter, the deputies ``assaulted and/or battered Mr. Pickett and used excessive force against him, resulting in death,'' according to the suit.

Pickett was ``Tasered, beat, hit, kicked, pushed and pulled'' by deputies when he refused to stop singing and leave his bathroom, ``resulting in his death,'' the lawsuit alleges.

One of the deputies allegedly Tasered Pickett for more than 34 seconds, ``causing him to fall face-down into his bathtub -- striking his head on a metal bar along the way,'' the suit contends.

The deputy continued to shock Pickett as he lay in the tub ``with his feet shaking from the voltage,'' and Tasered him as he was being dragged from the bathroom.

``During and as a result of the force used upon him by the defendants, Mr. Pickett suffered substantial and severe physical and emotional pre- death pain and suffering,'' the suit alleged.

Los Angeles County prosecutors reviewed the case and declined to pursue any charges against the deputies involved. An internal sheriff's investigation found the deputies acted within department policy.

According to a county staff report, the board is being asked to approve the settlement due to ``the high risks and uncertainties of litigation,'' noting that resolving the case for a ``reasonable'' amount will ``avoid further litigation costs.''

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