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 Police Officers.
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 family member.
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.
This information is being provided solely to describe a prior case and does not guarantee the same or similar result in any other cases.
Attorney V. James DeSimone is a 35+ year experienced civil rights & employment lawyer in Southern California. Jim is a Super Lawyer, Rated “Superb” by Avvo, and is a US News & World Report Best Law Firm in California.
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