LONG BEACH (AP) — The family of a man who died after a violent confrontation with Los Angeles County deputies in Compton won an $8 million jury verdict.
Long Beach jurors on Wednesday found deputies liable for negligence and battery in the death of Darren Burley, who died nearly two weeks after his 2012 arrest, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Burley, 29, was zapped with a stun gun and handcuffed by officers after he allegedly tried to choke a pregnant woman.
Lawyers for the family said the deputies choked Burley and suffocated him when they put pressure on him while trying to handcuff him Aug. 3, 2012.
Sheriff’s officials denied Burley was choked and said his death was caused by sudden cardiac arrest from chronic drug use. He was high on PCP and cocaine at the time, they said.
The pregnant woman told police Burley had choked her to her last breath.
“I was just gonna die,” she said in a videotaped statement thanking the officers.
Jurors found Burley 40 percent responsible for the incident, but a lawyer said the family will receive the whole award because of the battery finding.
Prosecutors declined to charge Deputies David Aviles and Paul Baserra because of Burley’s violent behavior.
The six-week trial occurred amid nationwide protests over deadly police confrontations with black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York. Burley was black.
“It is particularly heartening that the fair-minded people of Long Beach were able to listen to all of the evidence and determine that a black life did matter,” said the family’s attorney, Carl Douglas.