Monday, March 10, 2008

$10,000 Per Bullet

A man was awarded $1.3 million after a jury determined Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies used excessive force when they fired 120 shots at him following a low-speed chase. Sixty-six shots hit the man's vehicle.

Winston Hayes, 46, suffered nine bullet wounds when deputies fired 120 shots at him at the end of a low-speed pursuit on May 9, 2005. More than half the bullets hit Hayes' vehicle.

"Justice was done," Hayes said after the verdict.

"We do hope this verdict acts as a catalyst for building relationships between the Sheriff's Department and the community it serves," said Brian Dunn, Hayes' attorney.

Lawyers for the county declined comment.

After 10 days of deliberations, the jury determined Friday that Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputies Michael Haggerty and Vergilian Bolde used excessive force. Nine of the 12 jurors voted for the award, the minimum required in a civil case.

Deputies testified that they believed Hayes had attempted to run them down, and all said they only fired to save their own life or that of a fellow deputy. One deputy was caught in the crossfire but was only slightly wounded.

Thirteen deputies involved in the shooting received disciplinary actions ranging from written reprimands to 15-day suspensions.

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