Nicholas Robertson children awarded $3.6m
"The jury sent a message that there are some things that could have been done differently"
Video: YouTube/Cochran Firm California. This video contains graphic content and may not be suitable for all viewers.
County hit with $3.6m verdict in wrongful shooting death of Nicholas Robertson by sheriff’s deputies; video shows victim did not point a gun at deputies who shot him 17 timesLOS ANGELES — The County of Los Angeles continues to dole out millions of dollars in liability for the reckless behavior of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, most recently, $3.6 million to the children of a man fatally shot by two Lynwood station deputies in 2015.
The Cochran Firm, which represented the family of 28-year-old Nicholas Robertson, announced Monday, Dec. 4, the unanimous jury verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Robertson died after being shot 17 times by deputies on Dec. 12, 2015 in front of an Arco gas station near the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue in Lynwood. County sheriff’s officials claimed that Robertson pointed a gun towards deputies and that they feared for their lives, but multiple videos showed that Robertson was walking away from the deputies when they began shooting him. In all 33 shots were fired, 17 of them striking Robertson.
An investigation found that at the time of the shooting, Robertson was in possession of a handgun, but the weapon was not loaded.
“When we talk about the force that was used in this case, the evidence showed — in fact it was a pathologist hired by the defense — that Nicholas Robertson suffered 17 gunshot wounds but only two of them were fatal,” said Atty. Brian T. Dunn. “The pathologist’s opinion was that the last two shots were the fatal shots.
“So what that means is over a 24-second period in which Mr. Robertson is being shot — those are all non-fatal gunshots — so he could have lived if they had just not kept shooting him again and again and again and again.
“He could have lived because he suffered 15 non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and only two fatal and they were at the very end. We looked at the sheriff’s training. They are trained to shoot in two or three round bursts and then reassess. They did not do that here,” Dunn added. “Even an adherence to their own training in this situation could have resulted in the saving of a life.”
The sheriff’s deputies reckless disregard for policy formed the basis for the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Robertson’s children — twin sons and a daughter — against the County of Los Angeles and the deputies involved.
Dunn said the jury showed a lot of courage and that justice was served in this case.
“We think that this is a case that involved not just the deputies’ use of force that resulted in the death of Nicholas Robertson, but also the tactics they used when they approached the incident,” he said. “The significance of this verdict is that by finding that the deputies acted negligently, the jury sent a message that there are some things that could have been done differently. Perhaps this will result in a change in the way that Los Angeles County trains its deputies.
“Perhaps it can result in a change in the way that they approach individuals such as Nicholas Robertson, who although he was under the influence of a narcotic, was not someone who had harmed anyone. So what we’re hoping is that this verdict will result in no other family having to go through what the Robertson family went through,” Dunn said.