Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies Use of Force Reasonable

Andrew C. Pongracz and Janet L. Keuper served as counsel for two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies named as defendants in a U.S. District Court case. Plaintiff appeared in the action through the Administrator of his Estate, as the plaintiff had been murdered two years after the March 13, 2010 incident.  Plaintiff sued the deputies pursuant to §42 USC 1983 alleging Excessive Force in Violation of his Constitutional rights.  While incarcerated in Men’s Central Jail, Plaintiff assaulted a deputy and resisted arrest which resulted in a physical altercation involving three deputies.  Plaintiff sustained two broken teeth in the altercation, along with a laceration to his lower lip.  Plaintiff was criminally charged for the assault on a peace officer but the charge was later dropped.

The case was significantly streamlined prior to trial in Federal Court in front of Judge Pregerson, with the court granting summary judgment as to most of the claims and causes of action.  As originally filed, the case alleged six causes of action against sixteen individually named defendants.  The case went to trial on only one claim of excessive force against two deputies.  The sole witness for plaintiff on liability was a current prison inmate who testified he witnessed the assault of deputies.  With the assistance of expert testimony regarding law enforcement practices, the jury returned their unanimous defense verdict in less than two hours finding that Plaintiff had not sustained his burden of proof.  The jury found that the force used by deputies was reasonable and was not in violation of plaintiff’s civil rights.


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