LOS ANGELES (AP) - A lower court should not have cut a $1 million award to the family of an autistic man who was shot and killed by a Los Angeles police officer, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
A jury found in 2011 that former officer Joseph Cruz had used excessive force in the 2008 shooting of Mohammad Usman Chaudhry (CHOW’-dree).
Compensatory damages were awarded to Chaudhry’s estate for the pain and suffering he experienced between being shot and dying, with the jury finding excessive force was used and the civil rights of Chaudhry were violated.
However, a lower appeals court struck down most of the $1 million awarded to the family, leaving them with about $73,000.
A police probe largely cleared Cruz after the shooting, but Chaudhry’s family said their relative was not violent and they claimed a knife was planted on his body.
A trial court found that Chaudry’s civil rights had been violated by “threats, intimidation, or coercion,” as prohibited under the California Civil Code. The lower appeals court dismissed that part of the ruling, saying there was no intention to discriminate on the part of police.
The 9th Circuit found that the law “does not require proof of discriminatory intent” and restored the trial court’s ruling.