The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $3.75 million payout to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit against sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed a 16-year-old boy last year in the Westmont neighborhood of South Los Angeles.
Deputies shot Anthony Weber about 8:20 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2018, near the 1200 block of 107th Street during a foot chase. Deputies said they spotted a handgun tucked into the teen’s pants and that he reached for it before one of the lawmen, fearing for his life, fired 13 shots.
Investigators did not recover a weapon at the scene, but authorities said they believed the gun might have been picked up by someone in the crowd that formed in the aftermath of the shooting. A gun believed to belong to the youth and matching a description provided by one of the deputies was later retrieved in the search of the residence of an alleged gang associate, according to a summary provided to the board by the Sheriff’s Department.
The lawyer representing Anthony’s parents and daughter in a lawsuit filed in May 2018 in Los Angeles federal court insisted that the youth was unarmed.
“Anthony Weber committed no crime,” attorney Gregory Yates said last May. “He was unarmed and posed no threat to anyone. These deputies acted as judge, jury and executioner when they fired multiple shots at an innocent kid.”
The family’s lawsuit also alleged that as the teenager bled profusely, deputies failed to call for medical help in a timely manner or render medical aid, but sheriff’s officials countered that deputies immediately did so.
“Anthony was a devoted, loving son and young father whose life was tragically cut short,” co-lead counsel Dale K. Galipo said last May. “We intend to prove that under the color of authority, the deputies engaged in excessive force and violated the young man’s constitutional rights.”
A sheriff’s statement released shortly after the suit was filed said it was “frustrating” that the department could not comment on the evidence while the case was pending.
“Justice is not achieved in seconds, minutes or hours but during months of a painstaking, detailed process of getting the facts right beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement said. “Evidence is not opinion. This is what makes justice worth fighting for, and waiting for. We have watched as individuals hurl allegations or immediately assume that deputy-involved shootings and the aftermath are signs of police misconduct.”
The county board approved the settlement on advice of counsel who cited the risks and uncertainties of going to trial.
Deputies were called to the area on reports that a young man was pointing a handgun at a motorist. Arriving deputies said they saw Weber at an apartment complex that they characterized as a known gang hangout and he had a handgun tucked into his waistband, One of the deputies described the weapon as a Smith & Wesson M&P, semi-automatic pistol with black Talon grips and a red dot sight, according to the summary provided to the board.
“Both deputy sheriffs immediately drew their duty weapons, pointed at (Weber), and the first deputy sheriff yelled, ‘Let me see your hands!'” the summary stated. The teen and a woman he was talking to both raised their hands above their heads. One of the deputies warned the boy that if he moved, he’d shoot him, but the teen ran off as that deputy pushed through an opening in a fence to approach the pair.
The boy ran with his hands over his head during part of the chase, but then when one of the deputies was about five to 10 feet behind him, he turned and looked at the deputy “as if he was acquiring a target” and reached for his waistband, according to the summary.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the courtyard of the apartment complex where he was shot “was flooded with people who were trying to get to the subject and the deputies,” according to a sheriff’s statement released following the shooting.
About 30 to 40 residents of the area were angry and confronted deputies about the shooting, making it difficult for them to secure the scene. A Smith & Wesson pistol similar to the deputy’s description was retrieved during a follow-up search of alleged gang members’ residences and witnesses identified the gun as belonging to Weber, according to the summary.