An attorney for a 19-year-old Winnetka man who was shot to death by police following a late-night chase through the western San Fernando Valley said today that the shooting "was like the wild wild West."
Abdul Arian was shot dozens of times by Los Angeles police after he led officers on a high-speed chase that ended on the Ventura (101) Freeway near Woodland Hills. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Arian called 911 during the pursuit, which began after he ran a red light, and told a dispatcher he was armed and was prepared to shoot officers.
At a news conference outside , where Arian's funeral was to start an hour later, family attorney Jeffrey M. Galen said the slain man "had everything to live for."
"(He) had a family of a loving father and mother and siblings," Galen said. "He was an American citizen, born in the United States. It is one of the most tragic things that has happened in Los Angeles County of this magnitude in years.
"This far outweighs anything that I have seen in my career, in excess of 25 years," Galen said. "For law enforcement to shoot a suspect 90 to 150 times. For what? When I personally viewed the body, I can tell you that he has gunshot wounds going through his temple -- in one side of the head and out the other. He's got gunshot wounds in his arms, his torso, his back, his legs. He's got graze wounds across his body.
"Once they started shooting at this young man, it was like the wild wild West," the attorney said. "It was something that was undignified, and something that we as a society cannot tolerate. ..."
According to police, Arian had told the 911 dispatcher during the pursuit: "I have a gun,"
"I've been arrested before for possession of destructive devices, I'm not afraid of the cops," Arian said, according to the LAPD. "If they pull their guns, I'm gonna have to pull my gun out on them."
Although Arian was not armed and was carrying only a cell phone, video shot by news crews showed him getting out of his car at the end of the pursuit and taking a shooting-type stance toward pursuing police just before officers opened fire.
The young man's family filed a $120 million claim against the city on Monday, with Galen saying eight officers filed about 15 rounds each at Arian.
"This (claim) equates to one million dollars per bullet in compensation for the grieving family," according to a statement released by Galen's office. "It is the hope of Mr. Galen that this action will result in the reform of officer training and cultural diversity."
LAPD officials told the Los Angeles Times officers fired about 90 rounds.
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, said the shooting was regrettable, but Arian ignored commands from officers and then appeared to be prepared to open fire at them.
"It is unfortunate that our society has come to the place where a lawful command from an officer goes ignored. Oftentimes, this sets into motion a regrettable series of events, as in this case," Izen said.
"When a person decides to engage officers in a pursuit, refuses police orders to end the threat they are posing to the safety of officers and the public, tells the police that they have a gun, exits a vehicle and takes an aggressive shooting stance, extends their arms out and points an unknown object at the officers, they are subjecting themselves to the consequences of their actions, which may include being shot."
Arian's family insists the officers could have used non-lethal measures.
Arian had been enrolled in the LAPD's Explorer Academy, which teaches teens about careers in law enforcement, but he was removed for "disciplinary reasons" in October 2009, according to the LAPD.
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