BAKERSFIELD, Calif. —  This week a family of a man who was beaten to death by four Kern County Sheriff’s deputies was awarded a $4.5 million judgment in court for his wrongful death, according to a report by the Bakersfield Californian.

The jury held that the defendants – Kern County Sheriff’s deputies Daniel Willis, Ryan Greer, Angelos Gonzalez and Jonathan Juden – were negligent when they caused the death of Jose Lucero. The deputies and county were also held responsible for the “serious emotional distress” suffered by his parents, Florencio and Lilia, as they saw the incident take place in their home.

Two weeks before Christmas in 2010, Jose Lucero died after police came to his home and attempted to restrain him as his parents stood watch, the report said. Lucero, a recovering drug addict, resisted arrest and the Kern County jury found that police used excessive force causing him to have a heart attack and die. Lucero was using methamphetamine at the time and his family told authorities he also had mental health issues.

On the night of his death, Lucero made repeated 911 calls while he was in a delusional state, the report said. Police came to the home and attempted to subdue Lucero with a Taser gun. Lucero was allegedly shot 29 times. Police also used pepper spray inside the home. Six minutes after their arrival, Lucero died of cardiac arrest.

The family claimed the police officers used excessive force on their son and that watching the incident caused them emotional distress. However, Chief Deputy County Counsel Mark Nations told the Bakersfield Californian that the parents were asked to leave the room, but kept coming back in during the attack to watch the police attempting to subdue their son.

“Police officers are supposed to protect and serve the public, but sometimes excessive force can lead to a wrongful death or catastrophic injury,” said Attorney West Thomas, founder of the Thomas Law Firm. “Police are often not held criminally liable for injuries or deaths of individuals as they often argue they were just doing their job, but a civil wrongful death lawsuit is one way families may find justice on behalf of their loved one.”

Los Angeles Wrongful Death Attorneys

What is a wrongful death? Under California law, a wrongful death action may be brought to court on behalf of a victim’s survivors such as their parents, children or spouse. Survivors typically file this type of lawsuit in order to recover damages such as loss of support and companionship as well as funeral and medical expenses that result from a tortuous injury that is deemed to have caused the person’s untimely death, Thomas explains.

“A survivor who witnesses an injury or death may also obtain compensation for their emotional distress as in the case of  Jose Lucero,” Thomas said.

Time is of the essence in cases where a family wishes to pursue a wrongful death claim – especially in cases where the defendant is a government entity such as a city or police department. Under California law, there are timelines or statutes of limitations for filing such as suit that can be from six months to two years from the date the incident took place.

“Speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible in order to secure your right to file a lawsuit against a negligent party,” Thomas said.

This article was sponsored by the Thomas Law Firm. Our attorneys offer a free consultation for prospective clients who have been injured or have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. Call 1-855-ASK–WEST (1-855-275-9378) to speak with an attorney.

For over 30 years, the firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought to win justice for clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, at-work injuries, police brutality and more.  The firm has offices in Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

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