On May 3, 2013, Dennis M. Gonzales and a team of associates obtained a defense verdict in Lopez v. County of Los Angeles, Case No. BC 460074, following an 8-day jury trial in a wrongful death action arising from a fatal deputy-involved shooting. An off-duty Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy fatally shot and killed decedent after decedent ignored the deputy’s commands and instead reached into his waistband. Although a subsequent investigation revealed the decedent only had a screwdriver in his front pants pocket, LBAC argued that the deputy had observed a metallic object which he believed to be a weapon.
At trial, the defense successfully used Dr. Kris Mohandie’s testimony regarding third party witnesses’ statements, as well as exhaustive information on the decedent’s medical and criminal history, to opine that the decedent’s actions were consistent with a “suicide-by-cop”. LBAC convinced the jury to accept the deputy’s testimony that he feared for his life and that the shooting was a “suicide-by-cop”. A defense verdict was returned after one hour of deliberations.