LOS ANGELES – A woman whose teenage son was fatally struck by a ricocheting bullet when deputies fired at a dog that had attacked one of them in Palmdale reached a tentative settlement in her lawsuit against Los Angeles County, according to court papers.
Roberta Alcantar filed the lawsuit in December 2017 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging wrongful death and assault and battery and seeking unspecified damages. Her attorneys filed a notice of settlement that did not divulge the terms and stated that the resolution is subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors.
Attorneys for Los Angeles County maintained in their court papers that deputies fired at the dog in self-defense in the pre-dawn hours of June 22, 2017, and that they the did not see 17-year-old Armando Garcia standing nearby. The attorneys also stated that a sheriff’s sergeant promptly sought medical aid for the teen.
Deputies previously said they initially responded to a report of loud music about 3:30 a.m. near an apartment complex in the 38500 block of 10th Street East, and that as they investigated, a pit bull weighing 60 to 65 pounds charged at them and bit one deputy on his left knee.
The dog was restrained by a person at the scene, but as deputies awaited the arrival of paramedics, the animal got loose again and charged at the deputies, according to the department’s account of what transpired. At that point, two deputies shot at the pit bull from five to seven feet and the dog went back to the rear of the apartment complex and into the carport area.
Deputies said they followed the dog in an attempt to catch the animal and when they reached the carport, they found the teen on the ground with a gunshot wound to the chest. Deputies said they rendered aid until the boy was transported to a local hospital, where he died.
According to his mother’s lawsuit, the teen tried to restrain the dog, which did not did not belong to him or any of the friends with him that day. As he did so, the deputies aggravated the animal by shining flashlights and cameras at the animal, the suit states.
After the dog escaped from the teen, one or more of the deputies shot in the direction of the dog and the boy, according to the suit, which says at least two of the bullets hit him in the chest.
“While on the ground, and still alive, Garcia could be heard by witnesses calling out, ‘Help me, help me,”‘ according to the suit, which alleges that deputies delayed getting medical help for the teenager as they discussed “how they were going to explain the shooting.”
Alcantar arrived at the scene, but deputies did not tell her that her son was dead and that his body was in an ambulance nearby, the suit says.
The coroner’s office concluded that one of the deputies’ bullets richocheted and hit the teen.
In December, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office found that the boy’s shooting death was accidental and that no charges would be filed.
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