LOS ANGELES – The City Attorney’s Office successfully secured a defense verdict in a case involving a $3 million claim for damages alleging excessive use of force and commission of a battery by an LAPD officer. Deputy City Attorney Beth Fitzgerald successfully represented the City at trial. Plaintiff Veronica Okwuosa filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles alleging that she had sustained permanent high blood pressure and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of excessive force, battery, and false imprisonment by an LAPD officer. During the trial, the Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $3 million in damages for his client.
Following a four-day jury trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the City. On September 22, 2009, the Plaintiff parked her car in the rear alley of a tailor’s shop located on Crenshaw Boulevard, a few doors away from the location of a recent armed robbery at a restaurant. Plainclothes officers responding to the robbery approached the plaintiff’s vehicle believing that she may have been positioned in a get-away vehicle. Not realizing that they were law enforcement, the plaintiff ran off in 3-inch heels, carrying fabric from the tailor in one arm and a large purse in the other.
As the plaintiff was running, she fell to the ground and landed on her back. Officers approached the plaintiff, identified themselves as police officers, and offered to summon an ambulance. The officers never touched or had any physical contact with the plaintiff. After declining medical attention, the plaintiff left the scene. The following day, the plaintiff came to the Southwest Division and made a complaint against one of the officers, claiming that she had been pushed to the ground, causing her to sustain injuries.