- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — There’s no dispute that a gunshot came from a Lexus on the afternoon of Nov. 1, 2011, which prompted police to open fire at the parked car and spray at least 14 bullets at the vehicle.

One of the passengers, John Torres, was a documented gang member being trailed by police and believed to be armed. The other, 20-year-old Erick Catalan, was not.

But during closing arguments at a federal courthouse in Orange County, jurors heard conflicting accounts of why two Huntington Beach police officers shot and killed Catalan.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city of Huntington Beach, Catalan’s mother claims her son showed no aggression and cooperated with officers, according to her attorney, Robert English. He was only shot because police didn’t sufficiently secure the scene and ask him to get out of the car before confronting Torres.

“Erick Catalan had no way out. There was no way he could survive this shooting once it started,” said English. “The officers set the stage for disaster.”

Five of the bullets hit Catalan in the back and head, English said.

But Neal Moore, the attorney representing the two officers and the city, said Catalan’s movement inside the car caused officers to think he would shoot them.

“When he moved, reached into the back seat and grabbed the gun. … That’s why he got shot,” Moore said. “All he had to do is keep his hands on that dashboard, and Mr. Catalan would be here today.”

The pattern of bullet wounds on Catalan show that he was shot while turning his body, Moore said. The attorney for Catalan’s mother disagreed, saying there’s no way to show a sequence of gunshots.

A gun was recovered from the center console of the car bearing the DNA of both Catalan and Torres. A witness testified that Catalan held the gun earlier that day.

Jury deliberations began Thursday afternoon. Catalan’s mother is seeking unspecified damages.

Following an investigation, the Orange County district attorney’s office cleared both officers of wrongdoing in 2012, concluding that it was reasonable for the officers to think they were being shot at by Torres and Catalan.

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