LOS ANGELES — An unarmed man who lost part of his skull when he was shot by a Los Angeles police officer while out for a walk is suing the department for damages.
Lawyers for Walter DeLeon, 49, filed the notice of claim at Los Angeles County Superior Court last week. The claim accuses police officer Cairo Palacios of firing several shots at DeLeon without warning on June 19.
A quarter of DeLeon's skull was destroyed and most of his vision lost in the incident. He underwent 10 operations during five months in hospital, and his attorneys say he suffers daily flashbacks of the shooting.
Rather than call an ambulance, the officers rolled DeLeon onto his back and handcuffed him as he lay bleeding after the shooting, according to the claim filed with the court.
DeLeon was carrying a gray hand towel at the time of the incident. Los Angeles Police Department statements claiming that Officer Palacios thought the towel was concealing a weapon were "bizarre, contradictory and conflicting," DeLeon's attorneys said.
DeLeon's lawyers say the shooting represents a culture of unaccountability and misconduct within the police force.
Attorneys for DeLeon filed the notice of claim in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 2 against the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Cairo Palacios and other unidentified officers. A notice of claim is filed to give notice of an impending lawsuit.