A federal court jury has decided in favor of the City of Los Angeles regarding allegations of excessive force made by a Venice Beach surfer against Los Angeles police officers.
The jury returned a complete defense verdict after a one-week trial earlier this month involving allegations of excessive force, as well as civil rights violations and malicious prosecution against two LAPD officers and the city, said Frank Mateljan, a city attorney spokesman. The case was successfully defended by Deputy City Attorney Christian Bojorquez of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Police Litigation Unit.
Surfer Gregory Falk had filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and two Los Angeles police officers seeking $750,000 in general damages. The complaint alleged that the officers had used excessive force in removing Falk from a section of Venice Beach and thereafter falsely arrested and prosecuted him.
In July 2006, Falk was observed by lifeguards entering a designated “swimming only” section of Venice Beach south of the breakwater. LAPD officers with the Venice Beach patrol were requested for assistance after Falk allegedly ignored repeated requests to leave the water.
The officers attempted to escort Falk away from the beach, but said they were met with continued resistance. During the course of the struggle, officers used pepper spray and a distraction strike (punch) to subdue Falk and placed him in custody, according to the city attorney’s office. Falk ultimately entered a plea to unauthorized surfing and paid a $100 fine.
Following the trial, jurors found that officers had acted appropriately in the course of their duties.
Since July 1st, 2009 the city attorney’s office has secured favorable verdicts in 35 out of 35 trial matters, which has saved the city more than $100 million in avoided liability payouts, Mateljan said.