Updated at 6:15 p.m.—A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a multimillion- dollar wrongful death lawsuit brought against the city of Los Angeles and its police department by the parents of a 19-year-old Winnetka man who was shot by police following a late-night chase that began in Northridge.
Abdul Arian was shot scores of times by Los Angeles police around 10 p.m. on April 11, 2012, after he led officers on a high-speed pursuit that ended on the Ventura (101) Freeway near Woodland Hills.
According to the LAPD, Arian called 911 during the pursuit, which began after he ran a red light, and told a dispatcher he was armed and prepared to shoot officers.
In granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote there was "no triable issue of material fact'' as to plaintiffs' claims of wrongful death, excessive force, civil rights claims, negligence and battery.
"I am extremely disappointed over the ruling today,'' said Arian family attorney Jeffrey M. Galen. "I think it is a travesty that the life of a 19- year-old young man was taken by the LAPD, and this was not allowed to go before a jury. I believe the police reaction was clearly excessive.''
Although Arian was not armed and carrying only a cell phone, video shot by news crews showed him getting out of his car at the end of the pursuit and taking a shooting-type stance toward pursuing officers just before they opened fire.
Whether or not officers shouted warnings to Arian before firing is "immaterial,'' Klausner wrote, explaining that "the undisputed evidence shows that Arian, in the process of fleeing from officers, took a shooting stance and pointed his cell phone at officers three times in a span of only 19 seconds.''
The judge found that the "reasonableness'' of the officers' actions "weigh substantially'' in their favor.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said the case was a "tragic episode'' for the Arian family and the LAPD.
"That being the case, the residents of the city of Los Angeles should not have to pay for something the police were totally justified in doing,'' Trutanich told City News Service.
"There was a perception of grave threats to the officers at the time," he said.
The Arian family's most recent demand was $25 million. The demand at the time the lawsuit was filed in June 2012 was $120 million.
According to police, Arian told a 911 dispatcher during the pursuit "I have a gun. I've been arrested before for possession of destructive devices, I'm not afraid of the cops. ... If they pull their guns, I'm gonna' have to pull my gun out on them.''
Galen said officers could have used non-lethal force to subdue Arian, who, according to the autopsy report, had neither alcohol nor drugs in his system.
Trutanich said the judge's decision was "a welcome decision and vindication that the officers acted in a justified fashion. But that does not make this any less tragic. It's unfortunate for the family. As a parent myself, you empathize.''
Arian, an immigrant from Afghanistan, had been enrolled in the LAPD's Explorer Academy, which teaches teens about careers in law enforcement, but he was removed for "disciplinary reasons" in October 2009, according to the LAPD.
Galen previously said that the teen, who wanted to be a "party planner" but otherwise did not have a job, was discharged from the program for being late too often.
The attorney said the young man's family is "distraught" after learning of the judge's ruling. "They didn't think the system would let them down,'' Galen said.
The attorney said it was too early to say whether he would appeal Klausner's ruling.