Inmate on Inmate Attack Leads to Wrongful Death
Civil & Human Rights Civil Rights
Summary: Alex Galindo of Curd, Galindo & Smith,LLP Trial lawyers, of Long Beach, California announces that on February 27, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald denied the County of Los Angeles' Motion for Summary judgement, thus allowing the case to proceed to a jury trial in the wrongful death case of Evans v. County of Los Angeles. The case settled for $1,500,000 just before trial.
Alex Galindo on behalf of the family members of decedent, Tony Evans, 뒅䫋led a
wrongful death lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
and its employees. The case was filed with the USDC Central District of
California Case No.:2:19-cv-00793 and is known as Evans v County of Los
Court records show that the lawsuit was originally filed on February 1, 2019.
The complaint alleges a 14th amendment failure to protect claim under the
U.S. Constitution and 42 USC section 1983 as well as state claims for wrongful
Plaintiffs' allege that on January 17, 2018, Tony Joseph Evans, Sr. (“Evans”)
and Franklin Reveter (Reveter) were in the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department (“LASD”) at IRC [Inmate Reception Center (“IRC”),the control center where incoming male arrestees are processed and assigned out to a housing location maintained by LASD. That evening, the court records allege, that Evans and Reveter had a verbal altercation while sitting in the Clinic Waiting Area (the “Clinic”) of the IRC. The interaction drew the attention of LASD custody staff. The custody staff approached Reveter and spoke with him for approximately fifty seconds. The custody staff did not check Reveter’s booking information — as is LASD practice whenever inmates are involved in a verbal argument — or separate Reveter from Evans.
Within less than a minute after the verbal altercation in the Clinic, Custody staff directed
the inmates to a rear holding cell. LASD custody staff could see into the holding cell through the windows of the room in which they were located. While in the rear cage, court records allege, Reveter confronted Evans for the second time. The custody staff could see that Reveter and Evans were posturing and arguing. The courts records allege that the argument then turned physical. Custody staff did not enter or order any LASD custody staff to enter the holding cell to break up the 뒅䫋ght. Custody staff instead responded by giving a verbal command to stop fighting, pounding on the windows of the holding cell, and flickering the lights in the command room on and off. Avideo captured the physical altercation between Reveter and Evans, and the parties disagree about who first made contact.
The video shows that Reveter and Evans struggled for a few seconds while standing, Reveter punched
Evans in the head, and Evans fell to the ground, unconscious. Court records allege that once Evans was on the ground, Reveter continued to throw a series of punches at Evans from above. The court documents allege that the physical altercation lasted about thirty seconds. In response to LASD’s verbal commands, Reveter then walked away from Evans’s unconscious body. Nearly twenty seconds later, LASD custody staff entered the large holding cell and approached Evans, still lying unconscious on the floor.
Evans was thereafter transported to LAC+USC Medical Center, where he remained for two months and died 4 months later at another facility.
The court ruling determined that viewing the evidence presented by the Plaintiffs, in the light most favorable to
Plaintiffs, a jury could find that the LASD custody staff misclassified Reveter’s level of security risk, which, given Reveter’s mental illness and history of violence, created a substantial risk of harm to Evans. The court determined that a jury could find that this risk could have been abated by segregating Reveter from other inmates. By failing to do so, a jury could find that the LASD custody staff caused Evans’s death.
The court ruling also determined that a jury could also find that the LASD custody staff made the intentional
decision not to investigate the verbal confrontation between Reveter and Evans and not to physically separate them, options that were reasonably available to them at the time. A jury could find that those decisions put Evans at substantial risk of suffering serious harm by Reveter, and by failing to separate Reveter and Evans, the LASD custody staff caused Evans’s death.
Shortly after the court ruling the County of Los Angeles agreed to settle the case.
Mr. Evans is survived by his three adult sons who have brought the claim.
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