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Part III of III: $17.2M Verdict Against the City of Los Angeles for Family Shot by Off-Duty Officer

This article and video are part of a three-part series. Click the links to read Part I and Part II.

Russel and Paola French continued to heal from their emotional and physical wounds after being shot and losing their son at a Corona Costco by off-duty LAPD Officer Salvador Sanchez. Meanwhile, Dale, Eric, and Renée geared up for trial. To prove their case, they needed the jury to center their attention on the shooting and agree Officer Sanchez’s actions were under the color of law and within the scope of his LAPD employment. Then, they could pin the Defendant’s excessive force on the City of Los Angeles even after being fired in 2020.

Two years earlier, in 2019, a Riverside County grand jury returned with a “no bill” to prosecute Officer Sanchez. Consequently, Dale, Eric, and Renée knew they needed to cover their bases. As the trial commenced, they employed a strategy typically used by the defense: they filed a motion requesting the judge solely determine liability based on the facts and matter of law. This reduced the likelihood of a repeat of the 2019 proceeding, allowing the jury to focus on establishing the extent of the Plaintiffs’ damages. Thankfully, the judge agreed, declaring that the deadly force used against the family was unreasonable and negligent.

The jurors listened as the Plaintiffs’ experts took the stand, discussing the devastating injuries and the intrusive surgeries the French family suffered. Russel and Paola’s lost earnings were calculated on a slideshow, but it was their immeasurable loss of consortium that resonated with the jurors. Then, on the last day of direct examination, Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who stood against the NFL and illuminated the dangers of chronic brain damage in football players, was called to testify. The jury was on the edge of their seats. Dr. Omalu captivated the courtroom, describing the bullet trajectories and the family’s body positioning. He concluded his testimony with the DK Global animation – the jurors’ jaws dropped as they witnessed the 3D animated recreation of the horrific shooting.

Days later, Dale fervently delivered his closing arguments, fostering empathy for the French family. He contended that the City of Los Angeles fired Officer Sanchez to sidestep responsibility and withhold compensation from his clients. Anchoring the theme of the case, he stated the city hired Officer Sanchez, trained him, and appointed him a weapon to use anytime he perceived a public offense involving a threat. Moreover, Dale asserted that city policy allowing off-duty officers to be armed created a foreseeable risk. The impassioned jury clenched their verdict forms as Dale replayed the animation one last time. After the Defense shared their closing arguments, Eric gave his rebuttal, urging the jury to bring justice to the family.

The jury deliberated for only a couple of hours. Dale, Eric, and Renée were confident they proved their case, but how would the jury value the damages? The presiding juror shared the verdict and found Officer Sanchez and the City of Los Angeles responsible for the shooting, awarding $17.2 million to Russel and Paola French.

Dale K. Galipo has been an attorney for 32 years and is regarded as one of the most accomplished civil rights lawyers. Initially focusing on personal injury and criminal defense, Dale shifted his specialty to representing those involved in civil rights cases against the police. In the past eight years, Dale has obtained nearly 100 seven-figure verdicts and settlements, prevailing in more than 50 jury trials.

Since 2012, Senior Associate Eric Valenzuela has specialized in litigating civil rights and police misconduct cases, contributing to numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts. Recently, Super Lawyers selected Eric as a “Rising Star” for successfully litigating complex, excessive force cases involving novel law issues.

For ten years, Renée Valentine Masongsong has dedicated her practice to litigating civil rights police excessive force cases, attaining numerous multi-million-dollar jury verdicts. In 2020 alone, Renée prevailed in holding the city of Los Angeles and West Covina responsible for serious police misconduct, securing her clients a combined $8 million in settlements and verdicts.

This article and video are part of a three-part series. Click the links to read Part I and Part II.

"I would really urge all trial lawyers – my brothers and sisters out there – no matter how accomplished and successful you are or whether you are just getting going, I would really think about using an animation."
Dale K. Galipo - Law Offices of Dale K. Galipo
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