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Jury awards whopping $21 million to family of pregnant teen killed by Fremont police

Jury awards whopping  million to family of pregnant teen killed by Fremont police

SAN JOSE, Calif. – In a landmark verdict that is a person of the maximum of its kind nationwide, a federal jury awarded $21 million in damages to the loved ones of 16-calendar year-previous Elena Mondragon, who was fatally shot by Fremont police over five several years back.

The 7-member jury observed Friday evening that 3 Fremont officers acted negligently throughout a covert operation in Hayward that finished with officers firing rifles into a shifting BMW, killing Mondragon, who was a passenger in the vehicle. Lawyers for the city argued to jurors that the driver, not police, was accountable for her loss of life.

The city of Fremont will be on the hook for about $10.2 million of that volume, which would probable be the greatest one payout ensuing from a lawsuit against the city’s law enforcement department in its historical past. The man who was allegedly driving the BMW was requested to pay back the remaining sum.

“We hope a verdict like this sends the concept that police departments have to have to humble on their own in the deal with of community needs that they do improved,” stated Adante Pointer, an attorney for Mondragon’s mother.

It is 1 of the most important payouts at any time for a police killing, much larger than several very similar incidents that have built national headlines. The George Floyd murder in Minneapolis led to a $27 million lawsuit settlement, even though the spouse and children of Breonna Taylor settled a accommodate with Louisville, Kentucky, law enforcement for $12 million, for occasion. Last December, a jury in Austin awarded $67 million to the family of a guy killed by law enforcement, and a few months in the past, a San Diego jury returned an $85 million verdict in a wrongful demise match alleging police conquer and tased a gentleman to dying.

In the Bay Space, the latest lawsuit settlements have bundled figures as significant as $7.3 million for officers in Pittsburg who kneeled on top rated of a guy and did not discover that he was dying for various minutes, as perfectly as a put together $9.4 million settlements for the households of two adult men killed by the same Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy within a 3-12 months span.

Lawsuits around police killings hardly ever go to trial in the Bay Space. That is one of the issues that made Mondragon’s circumstance unique.

Mondragon, an Antioch resident, was a single of four persons inside a car pushed by 19-calendar year-outdated Rico Tiger, who authorities said was accountable for various violent armed robberies in Fremont and all-around the Bay Area. The Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Undertaking Drive, composed of associates of many law enforcement businesses, have been monitoring a stolen BMW Tiger was driving to the City Watch Condominium intricate in Hayward on March 14, 2017.

Tiger was billed with murdering Mondragon under the state’s provocative act doctrine, which retains individuals liable when a person else takes advantage of deadly self-defense. The case is nonetheless pending.

Fremont Sgt. Jeremy Miskella and Officers Ghailan Chahouati and Joel Hernandez ended up aspect of the undertaking pressure, which prepared to block Tiger’s automobile into the parking whole lot in the advanced with an undercover law enforcement minivan and arrest him.

Right after Tiger was observed by officers returning to the automobile with Mondragon and two other folks, officers have been delayed marginally by a resident pulling into the whole lot. Tiger began to pull out of a parking area, when Chahouati pulled the van “nose to nose” with the bumper of the BMW, briefly “chirped” the siren, and Hernandez activated police lights in the visor, the officers’ legal professional Patrick Moriarty claimed through the trial.

Sgt. Jeremy Miskella was a little behind the van driving a Honda Pilot. The officers then received out of the cars, Miskella and Hernandez aimed rifles at the BMW, and the officers gave instructions to Tiger, Moriarty stated.

Tiger backed up the BMW, revved its engine then attempted to flee by driving ahead and squeezing the BMW by a small house involving the police cars and a carport with motor vehicles parked in it.

Hernandez, who claimed he believed Chahouati had been killed, fired two photographs from a rifle at the car as it drove by, and Miskella fired five photographs from a rifle.

A person of Miskella’s shots strike Mondragon, who was in the entrance passenger seat of the BMW, reducing by way of her upper body and lodging in her spine. She died from her injuries later on that night for the duration of emergency surgery, in accordance to clinical data. It was afterwards confirmed by professional medical officials that Mondragon was pregnant at the time of her demise.

For the duration of the demo, attorneys Moriarty and John Robinson claimed Mondragon’s dying was a tragedy, but not a little something the officers had been responsible for. They emphasised the recklessness of Tiger, who remains in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin awaiting trial. To establish the murder, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office environment is arguing a authorized idea that states the officers made use of lawful pressure because of Tiger’s actions, making him criminally liable for her dying. He has pleaded not responsible.

One of the essential points of contention in the circumstance was where by Miskella was standing when he fired the last two rounds, a person of which was probable the a single that proved deadly for Mondragon. The family’s attorneys argued he was out of harm’s way, even though the officers’ lawyers claimed he was approximately strike by the BMW and feared for his daily life.

The jury in the long run determined, immediately after about two days of deliberation, that Tiger was 51% dependable for Mondragon’s demise, even though Miskella was 25% liable. Chahouati and Hernandez were being equally 12% dependable, the jury made a decision, in accordance to attorneys for Mondragon’s family and a Fremont city spokesperson.

“This verdict is a monument to justice,” Pointer stated in an job interview Friday night time.

“I consider this verdict claims that our neighborhood is unwilling to give officers a free pass to behave recklessly, and then in the aftermath, choose a placement that they can’t be held accountable for their reckless perform,” Pointer stated.

The city can continue to attraction the verdict.

Fremont spokesperson Geneva Bosques declined to comment on the verdict Friday night, but said the metropolis is examining the end result and conferring with its legal staff.

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This tale was initially revealed June 25, 2022 4:08 PM.