California Jury Awards $8 Million To Family Of Black Man Killed By Deputy Choking
A civil jury in Long Beach, CA awarded the victim of a choking by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies $8 million this week (Dec. 31). Darren Burley, 29, died just 12 days after his arrest in 2012, after deputies admittedly used a stun gun and their body weight to handcuff him.
“Mr. Burley was subject to an illegal choke-hold and suffocation when deputies put too much pressure on him face-down during a misdemeanor arrest,” the family’s attorney Carl Douglas told the Los Angeles Times.
The jury found Los Angeles County liable for negligence and battery in the Burley’s death. Prosecution argued that the unlawful chokehold – which deputies deny – blocked the flow of oxygen to the victim’s brain. Douglas confirmed that the $8 million award was given to Burley’s wife and five children.
The Aug. 3 Compton arrest was made after deputies responded to a call that Burley was choking a pregnant woman. A statement by the sheriff’s department stated that he was under the influence of PCP and cocaine, and did not follow deputies directions. He allegedly chased the victim, thereby “forcing the deputies to intervene in order to protect her,” according to a statement released.
The jury found that Burley was at fault for 40% of the ordeal. Battery on behalf of the deputies led his family to collect the full award. The six-week trial ended with a two-day jury deliberation.
“In the wake of the troubling decision in Ferguson and Staten Island, 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,” Douglas said.
Deputies David Aviles and Paul Baserra were not charged.