Los Angeles: Today a Los Angeles Jury awarded $3,218,500.00 to Valerie Allen, a Los Angeles resident who was shot by police officers after she attacked them with a wooden construction stake.
“A thorough review by the Police Department the Police Commission and the independent Inspector General found our officers’ actions were reasonable and within Department policy,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “Our officers were trying to assist her and protect the community when she attacked them with a sharpened construction stake. I don’t expect my officers to be hurt or killed by someone before they act. I stand by the actions of our officers completely.”
The facts of the case are clear. On September 3, 2009, around 7:00 am., LAPD officers were patrolling in the area of Franklin Avenue and Mariposa Avenue, when they were flagged down by a citizen. The citizen directed them to Valerie Allen, a 37 year old 5’3", 237 lb woman, who was running in the neighborhood wearing only a t-shirt. She was completely nude from the waist down.
When the officers stopped their police car Allen screamed, charged the police vehicle and began pounding on the front passenger window. The officers moved their vehicle further down the street to get away from Allen. The officers formed the opinion that Allen was under the influence of narcotics or mentally ill, and she should be taken into custody for her safety and the safety of the community.
When the officers approached Allen she ran to a residence in the 5000 block of Franklin Avenue which was surrounded by a six foot high wrought iron security fence. Allen climbed over the wrought iron security fence, injuring herself on the top of the fence and when she fell on the ground. Allen ignored the officer’s repeated orders to stop.
Allen eventually ran to an adjacent yard before the officers could stop her. While in the yard a witness reported that she threatened to kill a woman at a nearby window, and threw a metal cart at other neighbors.
In the yard, Allen picked up a 29 inch long pointed wooden construction stake, and holding the stake "like a baseball bat" began swinging the stake at the head of one of the officers. He blocked the blow with his arm and but it knocked him to the ground. According to civilian witnesses, Allen struck the officer repeatedly with the stick on his wrist, shoulder and neck.
The second officer, fearing for his partner’s life, drew his service pistol and shot Allen three times. The gunshots struck Allen on the right side of her chest, on her right elbow and on the right side of her stomach. Allen dropped the stake, sat down on the ground and laughed.
Additional officers arrived on the scene but Allen continued to refuse to submit to arrest. Another officer used a TASER on Allen, but the TASER had no effect. Finally, after pinning her to the ground with their body weight, the officers were able to handcuff her and get her medical treatment.
Allen was booked for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. Allen recovered from the gunshot wounds.