Los Angeles County sheriff deputies admitted to tasering, jumping on top of and punching Burley after they responded to a pregnant woman’s call that she was being choked on Aug. 3, 2012.
Twelve days later, Burley, 29, died. Attorneys for Burley’s family say they also put him in a choke hold, blocking the flow of oxygen to his brain. The sheriffs denied doing so, but the jury found them responsible for his death.
In their original filing, attorneys for Burley’s family accused the officers of being racists. “None of the deputy defendants who battered, Tasered, and struck Mr. Burley was African American,” the complaint said. “Consequently, in choosing to exercise severe and malicious force against him, each of the defendants discriminated against him on account of his race.”
Police argued that Burley’s death was caused by a heart attack stemming from years of drug abuse. They claimed he was under the influence of PCP and cocaine at the time of his arrest.
The jury found the county liable for police negligence and battery. Although they said Burley was 40 percent responsible for the incident, the battery finding means Burley’s family that includes a wife and five children will get the full $8 million award.
As is the case around the country, prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against the two deputies, David Aviles and Paul Baserra.
The woman who called the police on Burley said the police arriving when they did saved her life.