$13.5 million awarded to family in death of man restrained by LAPD officers

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Tuesday, October 17, 2023 2:45AM

$13.5M awarded to family in death of man restrained by LAPD officers

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A federal jury awarded $13.5 million to the family of a man who died days after two Los Angeles police officers used their bodyweight on his back to restrain him, the plaintiff’s attorneys said Monday.

The jury in downtown Los Angeles reached the decision Friday, finding that the officers used excessive force against Jacobo Cedillo, 50, in violation of his constitutional rights. The jury also found that the city of Los Angeles had not adequately trained the officers.

Cedillo’s daughter, Nicole Juarez Zelaya, sued the city in 2020 for civil rights violations, inadequate training and other allegations.

The trial ended with the jury deciding officers used excessive and unreasonable force.

Friday’s verdict included a finding that the city “failed to train its police officers with respect to the risks of positional and restraint asphyxia,” Zelaya’s lawyers said in a statement. Attorney Dale K. Galipo said he hoped such verdicts will cause police to take notice.

Bodycam video of the incident from April 2019 was also released to the media for the first time on Monday.

It showed officers approaching Cedillo and cuffing him while he sat in the driveway of a gas station in Van Nuys.

Authorities said officers suspected Cedillo was under the influence of an unknown drug. Things escalated as officers attempted to place Cedillo in a squad car.

Galipo said officers took Cedillo to the ground and began getting on top of him for about 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

“He finally was awoken by the paramedics and within two seconds they put him back down, prone again, applying full body weight for 2 minutes and 46 seconds, ultimately, resulting in his death,” Galipo said.

Zelaya said she’s grateful the jury found the LAPD liable for her father’s death. She added her dad was stripped from his dignity when he was killed.

When asked for comment, the LAPD said it does not comment on pending litigation or the outcome of such litigation.

The officers were found by LAPD not to be in violation of any department rules, the plaintiffs said.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.

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