ANAHEIM, Calif. (Nov. 21, 2019) — Anaheim disagrees with a verdict and $13.2 million judgment by a Los Angeles jury this week in a civil lawsuit filed against the city and three Anaheim Police personnel regarding a 2016 incident.
Full city statement, attributable to Mike Lyster, Anaheim spokesman:
We respectfully disagree with the decision and believe the judgment is unwarranted.
Our officers responded to a family’s call for help and took measured, reasonable actions in dealing with someone intent on resisting, fighting and getting away.
Our police have a duty to respond and engage, and their only other option would’ve been to walk away. That is not what the community expects of us.
Any loss of life in our city is tragic, and we are the first to take a critical look at any encounter. We have done so and believe our officers acted in the best interest of public safety.
We see a big disconnect in this result and what our officers and the community faced that day.
Ultimately, this incident speaks to the devastating impacts of drugs on people, families and communities.
The lawsuit stems from a July 2016 encounter and in-custody death of 32-year-old Fermin Vincent Valenzuela Jr.
You can find more about the incident and lawsuit here.
The city is currently evaluating its options, including whether to appeal the decision.
Should the judgment stand, it would not impact Anaheim’s spending on public safety, parks, libraries and other community services.
Anaheim prepares for lawsuits by participating in a risk pool, a type of self-insurance. While the risk pool still comes at a cost to the city, it protects Anaheim’s residents from any impact on day-to-day spending on city services.