On July 1, 1990, 20-year-old Terrence Williams was shot and killed by a
Hawthorne Police Officers after escaping from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
The son of Loretta Brown and Naymon Williams was diagnosed as a schizophrenic.
His family was concerned about him so they took him to the hospital to
have him evaluated and so he could receive his medication. However, Terrence
left the facility and returned home where he was confronted by Hawthorne
The story told by the police officers was a familiar one. Officer Luper,
who shot and killed Williams, claimed that his actions were in self-defense.
Police investigators reported that Williams severely beat two hospital
security guards in order to escape. The Officers claimed they were trying
to take him back into custody in order to get him help. Instead, Williams
attacked them, breaking Luper’s nose in the process.
After punching Officer Luper, Williams ran around to an alley behind the
house. While other Officers arrived, Luper insisted on being the one to
take Williams into custody. When Williams was ready to attack him again,
Luper shot and killed him. In the days before video recordings of police
were common-place, the police version of events was extremely difficult
to overcome. In fact, Terrence Williams did injure the police officer
who tried to handcuff him lending credence to the Officer’s story.
But when Lorretta Brown called Jim DeSimone and his then firm, Schonbrun
& DeSimone, they did not accept the police version of the events.
They hired an investigator who previously worked for the Hawthorne Police
Department to canvass the neighborhood to find if anyone witnessed the
shooting. They knew it was a long shot as the shooting occurred in an
alley. However, their efforts paid off and an eye witness confirmed that,
just prior to being shot, Terrence Williams surrendered, his arms outstretched,
pleading with Officer Luper and stating, “what are you going to
do now, shoot me.” Officer Luper, angry that Terrence punched him
when he was trying to handcuff him, did exactly that, pumping two bullets
into his chest and killing him.
In September of 1991, after engaging in hard fought litigation and taking
the case to the brink of trial, the City of Hawthorne agreed to pay $1
million to the Williams family to compensate them for the loss of their
Twenty-five years later, V. James DeSimone continues to represent victims
of police misconduct and their families.
Learn more about the settlement by reading the full article published by
The Daily Breeze. You can also contact V. James DeSimone Law for representation
in civil rights and police misconduct cases. We offer free case evaluations—just
fill out our online form or call.
Original Daily Breeze article image can be found here.
This information is being provided solely to describe a prior case and
does not guarantee the same or similar result in any other cases.