Judge Allows Defense Mental Exam of Man Suing LA Over Projectile Injury

Young asian woman with mental health problem meet psychologist to consult and mental therapy. Psychology and mental therapy concept

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man who says he was shot in the back of the head with a rubber bullet by Los Angeles police during a 2020 protest against the killing of George Floyd must submit to a mental examination by a defense expert, but the results have to be shared with the plaintiff's lawyers, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy granted a motion by attorneys for the city of Los Angeles, who want plaintiff Randall Stewart of Van Nuys assessed because he is alleging he suffered emotional distress from the incident.

However, in a sworn declaration, David Lechuga, a psychologist chosen by the defense to conduct the session, said he could only share the results with another psychologist, prompting Stewart's attorneys to say they wanted to have set aside a previous agreement they had with the city to allow the examination.

According to Lechuga, giving the results to the plaintiff's lawyers would violate the ethical principles and the code of conduct under which psychologists in the state are bound.

"Sending such raw test data or recordings to non-psychologists of the testing procedures would potentially place my psychology licenses in jeopardy before the Board of Psychology in the state of California," Lechuga said.

However, the judge said the defense does not explain how sharing the findings with Stewart's attorneys violates any rules.

"The results of mental exams are regularly provided to counsel and it would be practically impossible for counsel to prepare for the case without such information," Murphy wrote. "The protective order prohibits public dissemination of the data and the attorneys in this case are persons with professional interest because they are involved in litigation where the patient's mental condition is at issue."

Murphy said that if Lechuga cannot abide by the judge's order to share his findings with Stewart's lawyers, then someone else must conduct the examination.

According to Stewart's attorneys' court papers, on May 30, 2020, the plaintiff and other protesters marched down Gardner Street, turned west on Third Street, and eventually stopped near Fairfax Avenue. When the protesters refused to vacate as the officers demanded, Officer Bryan Dameworth of the Los Angeles Police Department began telling them to "leave the (epithet) area" while shooting rubber bullets into the crowd, one of which struck Stewart in the head, causing him severe and permanent injuries.

The allegations in the suit were originally filed in March 2021 and recently expanded with additional claims, include assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in April 2021 of murder in Floyd's May 25, 2020, death and was sentenced in June 2021 to more than 22 years in prison.

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