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LA to settle police-death lawsuit for $5 million

Wednesday - 8/20/2014, 11:00pm  ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to pay $5 million to the family of an unarmed, disabled man who was killed by police in a shooting captured on live television.

The council voted 12-2 in closed session to approve a settlement of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed over the Dec. 13 shooting of Brian Beaird, City News Service reported. The family of the Oceanside man had sought $20 million.

Beaird, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, led authorities on a nearly hour-long chase after they tried to stop him for reckless driving.

Driving a silver Corvette, Beaird ran red lights and stop signs before hitting a car in a downtown intersection and seriously injuring the other driver. The vehicle then spun out onto a sidewalk.

Beaird's father, Billy Beaird, watched live on television as his son staggered out of the car, briefly raised his hands and was shot several times.

Billy Beaird had told the Los Angeles Times that his son was discharged from the National Guard in 1988 after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor and needed regular medical care.

The family's attorney, Dale K. Galipo, said he was grateful for the City Council's vote.

"It implicitly says they acknowledge that the shooting was inappropriate and should not have happened," he said. However, "it seems to take a video to really force their hand in settling a case like this," Galipo added.

Beaird had a number of emotional problems following his brain surgery and the death of six close friends in a military helicopter crash and was paranoid at the time of the police chase, the attorney said.

"He couldn't understand why the police were chasing him, and he didn't know what to do," Galipo said. "He called his family during the pursuit and asked what he should do. And they told him he should pull over ... and he said 'I'm afraid' and kept going."

The lawsuit, filed by Beaird's father and mother, Christal Benjamin, alleged that police were inadequately trained, used excessive force and committed battery and negligence.

Councilman Bernard Parks was absent for the council vote, while Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander dissented.

"It's very unfortunate on everyone's part, on the driver's part, and the officers involved," said Buscaino, a former Los Angeles police officer. "In this case, you had a pursuit that lasted a long time, involved three agencies, and I felt that there's an opportunity to proceed and challenge the case."


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