The family of a Black man fatally shot 17 times by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in 2015 will receive $3.6 million in a wrongful death lawsuit, the Cochran Firm announced Monday. The decision in the death of Nicholas Robertson was decided by a unanimous jury.
Thirty-three shots were fired at 28-year-old Robertson by deputies assigned to the Lynwood Sheriff’s Station on Dec. 12, 2015. He was fatally pummeled by 17 of the 33 shots in front of an Arco gas station near a busy intersection on that ill-fated day that the family, especially his children, will remember for the rest of their lives.
Los Angeles County officials believed Robertson pointed a gun toward deputies and touted the “fear for your life” defense. A gun, not loaded, in Robertson’s hand was not pointed at deputies, according to the Cochran Firm. Multiple videos showed the father walked away from deputies when they began hurling bullets.
Robertson would have lived if it were not for the excessive shots fired his way, Brian T. Dunn, an attorney with The Cochran Firm, explained.
“When we talk about the force that was used in this case, the evidence showed–in fact it was a pathologist hired by the defense–that said that Nicholas Robertson suffered 17 gunshot wounds but only two of them were fatal,” Dunn explained. “The pathologists opinion was that the last two shots were the fatal shots. So what that means is over a 24-second period in which Mr. Robertson is being shot–those are all non-fatal gunshots–so he could have lived if they had just not kept shooting him again and again and again and again.”
Sheriffs defied training procedures that teach them to only shoot two or three round bursts before reassessing the danger of an encounter.
“We looked at the sheriff’s training,” Dunn added. “…Even an adherence to their own training in this situation could have resulted in the saving of a life.”
Dunn and the Cochran Firm filed the wrongful death suit against the County of Los Angeles and the deputies involved “on behalf of Robertson’s young twins and daughter,” they said. The $3.6 million verdict is an indicator that justice prevailed, Dunn said.
“We think that the jury showed a lot of courage,” Dunn continued. “…The significance of this verdict is that by finding that the deputies acted negligently, the jury sent a message that there are some things that could have been done differently.”
Perhaps a change will come in the way that Los Angeles County trains its deputies, and no other family will have to go through what the Robertsons experienced, Dunn added.