WOODLAND HILLS – The families of Darrell Logan Jr. and Christian Cobian are two of several claimants seeking unspecified damages from Los Angeles County in connection with alleged incidents of excessive force and racially-motivated abuse on the part of the Sheriff’s Department.
“We’re talking about brutal beatings that were on video, and we’re talking about shootings where people have been killed,” said attorney Bradley Gage, who filed the government claim Friday.
Darrell Logan Jr., 32, was shot and killed by deputies on Oct. 13, 2011 and Christian Cobian, 26, was shot dead by deputies on Jan. 21, 2012. Other claimants include Nikkia Wise, 20, who alleges she was roughed up and choked by deputies on Jan. 11, 2012, and Marco Chiclana, 34, who claims he was brutally beaten without justification at Antelope Valley Hospital on April 2, 2011.
“The community in the Antelope Valley is concerned that people of color are being targeted, and nothing is being done to protect them,” Gage said. “We’re hopeful that all this coverage will help to make a change.”
Claimants and family members crammed Gage’s law offices in Woodland Hills for a press conference Wednesday, where Gage called each family before the media to explain the circumstances that prompted them to take legal action against the Sheriff’s Department.
Gage said claimant Marco Chiclana was brutality beaten after calling deputies to the hospital to assist with his father who was disoriented after surgery and trying to leave against doctors’ wishes. Read more here.
Gage is representing Marco Chiclana in a civil lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department and is also representing Marco’s mother, Maria Chiclana, in a criminal case. Maria has been charged with obstructing an officer in connection with the hospital altercation. But Gage said video of the incident disputes this. View the video here.
“You have this woman, 63 years old, she sees her son being attacked by the officers… she puts her hand on an officer trying to calm him down because he’s hurting her son,” Gage said. “As they continue to beat her son, eventually she faints, and she’s charged with a felony charge of obstructing and resisting.”
He said Maria Chiclana’s charge has since been reduced to a misdemeanor by the court, and her criminal case is set for trial on April 10.
Gage said two of the deputies involved in the Chiclana incident allegedly brutalized another claimant – 20-year-old Lancaster resident Nikkia Wise.
Wise claims she was roughed up and choked by deputies who stopped her for riding a bicycle without a light. Read more on her story here.
“You probably only have a few individuals in this department that are bad, but these bad people keep doing bad things repeatedly and nothing is being done, that’s part of why we’re here,” Gage said.
Another claimant, the family of Darrell Logan Jr., said the matter was less about the claim and more about seeing justice carried out.
“I don’t care about this claim, I will never see my son again,” said Logan’s mother Arzenia Ratliff. “I’m making a lot of noise and I’m not going to close my mouth. You just can’t take away my child.”
Logan Jr. was shot and killed by deputies who responded to his home after receiving a call of shots being fired from his address. When Logan refused to come out of the garage, deputies forced entry and “were confronted by the armed suspect and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” according to a Sheriff’s press report released the day after the shooting.
An autopsy revealed Logan was shot 11 times. Read more here.
Wednesday, Logan’s father, Darrell Logan Sr., said the autopsy also proved his son could not have been holding a weapon during the time of the shooting.
“Darrell is also right handed, he was shot in his right hand, so his hands were up,” Logan’s father said.
“There were 40 shots fired,” Gage said. “You would have to imagine that somewhere between shot number one and 40, the sheriff’s deputies would have realized that his son was not holding any weapon and was not in danger.”
Logan Jr.’s brother, Steven Leonard Porter, said the atmosphere in the Antelope Valley was “devastating.” The 22-year-old said he had been pulled over and roughed up by deputies while trying to ride a bicycle to the store.
“The harassment from police officers from the Lancaster Station to the Palmdale Station is uncontrollable,” Porter said. “I feel like my life is threatened every time I step out of my house.”
The family of Christian Cobian, the man shot dead by deputies during a traffic stop for a bicycle violation, was the last to speak at the press conference. Cobian’s aunt, Erica Perez, said her nephew was attending a baptism celebration at the family home. She said Cobian rode his little sister’s bicycle to the store for some cigarettes and a short time later, the family heard several gun shots.
“We all ran towards the store when we heard the gun shots, we all ran together,” Perez said. “When we got there, the police were there and they had already put the crime scene tape where he was dead.”
Gage said he had personally spoken to people who had witnessed the Cobian incident.
“According to witnesses, he was shot in the leg and the groin region, he was calling for help, he was pleading to the deputies to stop shooting him,” Gage said. “Some interval of time passed, then a deputy came up and shot him in the head and killed him… according to these witnesses this was nothing short of a police execution.” View the autopsy here.
The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on specifics of the claim Wednesday; however, spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department is not hiding anything.
“Is there a pattern that’s racially motivated? Unequivocally no,” Whitmore told ABC 7. “If there be a lesson in anything, when you are in contact with law enforcement, do exactly what law enforcement tells you to do.”
The government claim seeks unspecified damages and was filed with LA County Friday, said Gage, adding that the Sheriff’s department should have received it this week. In California, you must first file a claim before you may sue a public entity (i.e. state, county or local government).
Other claimants include Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Moffett and 15-year-old William Fetters. The claim alleges Moffett was targeted for abuse and racial slurs by his colleagues at the Sheriff’s Department because he is part Asian and part Native American. The claim also alleges that Fetters was shot in the back and side without justification.
Additionally, the claim details allegations of gangs within the Sheriff’s Department, specifically the “Vikings” and the “Regulators,” that are made up of “Neo Nazis” and “White Supremacists” who earn tattoos based on the number of people they kill. Read the entire government claim here.