Friday, September 7, 2007
The L.A. Times reports that the Los Angeles Police Department may be slapped with a class action suit for its conduct at May 1 immigration marches in downtown Los Angeles. Civil rights lawyers have filed 164 more claims against the city of Los Angeles in connection with injuries or emotional harm allegedly suffered when the LAPD broke up a May 1 immigration protest. Lawyer Carol Sobel, speaking for scores of people who were in or near the park on the day when police fired rubber bullets into the crowd, said she and other lawyers would pursue a class-action lawsuit against the city and the LAPD. Sobel said claims were filed to give lawyers more time to identify all of the potential plaintiffs and to encourage people to come forward, regardless of their immigration status. Sobel submitted the claims along with lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
So far, 10 lawsuits have been filed over the incident and 258 legal claims have been submitted -- nine of them by journalists who covered the event that day.
The May 1 incident prompted investigations by the LAPD and the FBI, and forced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to return early from a trade mission to Mexico and Central America. Police Chief William J. Bratton responded by reassigning two high-level commanders.
The 33-page filing contains complaints from residents who said they were struck by batons, hit by rubber bullets or otherwise injured while fleeing from police -- including one woman who said she subsequently suffered a miscarriage. The filing also includes a number of people who said they suffered emotionally, including children and senior citizens who said they were traumatized. The plaintiffs collectively will seek monetary damages and changes at the LAPD, including the implementation of more frequent and consistent training on how to deal with crowds.