Alfonso Cerda, 45, was killed earlier this morning while riding his bicycle in Inglewood. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s say they were trying to stop Cerda and thought he was armed. It is not clear how or why the patrol car struck Cerda but the impact was so severe that he died later of his injures at the hospital.
This is a rather peculiar scenario that must be independently investigated immediately. Evidence must be preserved and witness statements should be recorded. Cerda did not have any weapons. The community must force the Sherrif’s department to answer for today’s events. Policies and procedures must immediately be reviewed regarding such situations and safety measures and additional training should be required.
Alfonso Cerda was a father of three children. While there are many situations where the Sherrif’s department may be able to escape civil liability, this certainly shouldn’t be one of those situations. A potential “suspect” on a bicycle doesn’t stand to cause harm or danger to offices in a patrol vehicle. There was no evidence of any immediate danger or harm to the deputies and no weapons or anything similar were found on Cerda.
In a US Supreme Court ruling, City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, the court found that a lack of adequate training may serve as a basis for liability when the failure to train “amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with whom police come into contact.” In another Supreme Court case, Sacramento v. Lewis, the court held that the plaintiff (or victim) has a very high burden to prove that the police violated “substantive due process by causing death through reckless indifference to life in a high-speed chase.” The difference in the Lewis case, and the Alfonso Cerda would be that this situation (police car v.s. bicycle) does shock the conscience. Under no circumstance would this be the same as if the patrol vehicle crashed into another car. A bicycle leaves the rider unprotected and a virtual sitting duck.
STEPS TO TAKE
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a police chase, you should immediately contact a personal injury lawyer that will immediately begin an investigation into your case. This should involve the participation of several experts, evidence preservation, witness interviews and a thorough review of police procedures and policies for that particular department. Feel free to call our office today for a free consultation: (888) 853-6696