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Bounty hunter shot by LAPD officer awarded nearly $1.2 million [Updated]

A bounty hunter shot and wounded by Los Angeles police who mistook him for a robber as he was taking a fugitive into custody has been awarded nearly $1.2 million by a federal jury.

Jurors earlier this month found Los Angeles Police Department Officer Daniel Pearce used “excessive force” when he shot Elvin Andre Gilbert in South L.A., where the bail recovery agent was detaining a bail jumper wanted on a felony.

The Nov. 30, 2005, shooting unfolded shortly before 9 p.m. and left Gilbert, who was working for a San Jose bail bonds company, in a drug-induced coma for several days from the gunshot wounds.

“I am glad it is over, and I’m happy with the jury’s decision,” said Gilbert, who continues to live with injuries he received.

[Updated at 1:21 p.m.: "I am very happy the jurors got to hear what really happened," Gilbert said in a phone interview. "(The LAPD) made a lot of statements that contradicted the facts to try to justify the shooting.”]

Gilbert was shot after Pearce and his then-partner Officer Harlan Taylor heard a commotion near the 2100 block of East 99th Place and saw two men dressed in black confronting a Latino, holding his wrists behind his back and escorting him at gunpoint.

Officers said one of the men held a gun to the head of Isabino Vasquez, and they believed Gilbert and fellow bail agent Allen Badoya were committing a robbery or a kidnapping.

The officers, according to the LAPD, ordered Gilbert to drop the handgun, but Gilbert turned toward them, and Pearce shot him three times. One round hit the left side of Gilbert’s stomach and came out the right side, while another went through his right arm.

During a six-day trial, Gilbert’s attorney, Dale K. Galipo, presented witnesses who said Gilbert and his partner were about to escort the fugitive, and the gun was not raised when officers confronted them.

He also disputed the officers’ account that a warning was shouted before the shots were fired.

[Updated at 1:23 p.m.: "They shot me as soon as I stood up," Gilbert said Thursday in a phone interview. "Once I was hit, it was lights out… I never saw the officers or heard them. I only knew they were police officers when they said they would blow my head off if I moved and began handcuffing me.”]

The wounded Gilbert was arrested for assault on an officer, and the LAPD guarded his hospital room for several days. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office declined to charge Gilbert.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jan Ian Perlstein noted the “facts tend to indicate he turned toward the officer to see where the shooting was coming from.”

The jurors hearing the civil lawsuit found the LAPD officers did not have the required probable cause to arrest Gilbert. The jury Jan. 10 awarded Gilbert $1.165 million, including $365,000 for economic damages, $200,000 for physical pain, mental suffering and emotional distress and $600,000 for future  damages.

A deputy city attorney who handled the case did not return calls from the Times.

Attorneys for Gilbert told jurors the bounty hunters had warned an LAPD patrol unit the day before that they would be in the area seeking to detain a fugitive.

While Gilbert was in the hospital, lawyers for Gilbert alleged an LAPD officer guarding him and a detective questioned the bail agent as he was coming out of his coma, despite a request that such contact be made only with his lawyer present.

Read the Los Angeles Police Commission report on the shooting The jurors’ decision contradicts one by the Los Angeles Police Commission that found the use of force to be within department policy but that the officers' tactics warranted further training. The commission was particularly concerned that when a crowd gathered after the shooting, one of the officers picked up the weapon Gilbert dropped and put it in his pocket but then placed it back — making it seem as though it was planted.

At the time of the shooting, eyewitness Elvonzo Cromwell told the Times the bounty hunters were dressed all in black and that Gilbert looked like a robber. Cromwell described a chaotic scene after the shooting, one witnessed by many bystanders.

He said he did not hear the police yell orders for Gilbert to drop his gun, but he said the man was holding a gun when he was shot. The police "came out of nowhere all of a sudden," he said. He said a shot went over his head.


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Comments () | Archives (47)

The police department is full of liars. Little trigger happy liars!

See, just like mentioned earlier. The cops in this area are too trigger happy. After living in the Bay Area for 20 years, Richmond VA, a much more crimeridden city than LA for several years, then Charlotte NC,Virginia Beach VA, Nashville TN and other samller cities, I have never witnessed so many police involved shooting than in SoCal. Is it their training or do you guys have death squads riding in those black and whites? This paper should compare these shootings to other metro areas in the country to see if I'm mistaken. I don't believe I am. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate cops, but I do think the number of citizens shot and killed here should be alarming.

What you call bounty hunting, we call kidnapping. A bounty hunter who comes to Canada in search of a US fugitive may very well find himself behind bars.

This one is ALL on the bail agents. Telling a "patrol unit" the "day before" that you're in the area looking for a fugitive doesn't cut it. Before you detain a parolee at gunpoint, while dressed in black with no official uniform or markings that identify you, you better call the patrol station AT THAT MOMENT to notify them as to what you are doing. If you don't bother, expect to get shot when the police see what appears to be an armed kidnapping in progress. This is why undercover officers have raid jackets that say "POLICE" readily available, or badges on chains around their neck, to avoid exactly this kind of problem. When an officer is confronting a probable felon armed with a gun, who can turn and fire in less than a second, a shooting is bound to occur if he does anything other than slowly place his gun on the ground. There is no way the parole agent did that in this scenario. Tragic shooting, squarely at the feet of the parole agents.

LAPD tends to shoot first then ask questions later. Police shootings in Los Angeles seem to happen everyday.

"Los Angeles Police Commission that found the use of force to be within department policy"

They said the same thing in the Rodney King incident

Not all police are bad. but there are several over aggressive, arrogant, and abusive police officers in this city. Like all jobs there are always a few bad apples

LAPD policy: shoot first, celebrate over the innocent victim's body later.

Leave the bounty hunting to the cops. Bounty hunters belong to the 19th century. Evem if the cops went too far, I have no problem with the cops detaining private and unaccountable bail bond company employees who look for people with warrants to determine if they are legit.

The police in Los Angeles are just to darned trigger happy especially in area where there is a lot of poverty.

The police may be have fault here, but I think the bounty hunters, and their employers, do too. They should be as easily identified as police officers are and they need to do more to alert the police when they are in the area. Just telling some patrol car seems like very little effort was made. I mean, if I walked up and saw some guy being led away by two guys not dressed as police, and with a gun pointed at him, you can bet I'm not going to think, "oh, must be bounty hunters". So if the LAPD is a fault here, shouldn't also the bail bond company be as well?

No one disputes the fact that being a police officer is a hazardous, often thankless job. But the LAPD is either trigger happy, or poorly trained, because every day we hear about someone getting shot, but we don't often hear of an officer getting shot because he was too slow on the draw. The shooting of a naked unarmed man last week is another example of poor judgement, and calls into question just why these guys are so quick to escalate to lethal force. Someone needs to be held accountable. Half of LA hates or fears the police more than the bad guys. Why is that?

I agree with Michael.

2 guys in black are holding a man a gunpoint and a jury decides the Police don't have probably cause. I really wonder how they define probable cause.

Stay Classy, LAPD

Bounty Hunters are nothing but wanna bes who couldnt make it as a cop or were fired. Most have criminal records.

What a joke...

Creative report writing is the most important and extensive training any police officer goes through. It happens on every arrest, not just one here and there.

Trigger happy cops? Yeah like the cop yesterday who got shot at the school???

Sounds like the tards posting are trying to band all cops together....that doesn't make sense. It would be like banding all doctors, lawyers, mechanics, painters, accountants, business owners, insurance agencies, etc as all the same....

One trigger happy cop just cost the city 1.6 million.... He should have to pay it, not the tax payers!!!!

Only the best from our city attorney's office. Seems like the bounty hunter's civil attorney ran circles around L.A.'s hapless counselor. How could the city lose that much from those facts absent an idiot hire for the city attorney's office. Good luck LAPD, that's who you have protecting you.

LAPD need more trainning how to handle deadly weapon. They carry a real gun, not toy guns

The jury should award at least 10 million dollars for this excessive
force from the police. I'd recommend 100 million dollar damage so
LAPD do not shoot innocent people again.

LAPD- lie when the truth fits better. Those cops should be tried for perjury.

Thanks again LAPD, you make us all so proud!

Picking up on my sarcasm yet you bullies with badges??

Why does this article make no mention that the bondsman did not have a permit to even be carrying his weapon? Perhaps if the man had followed the law, and attended the weapon safety course required, this whole situation could have been avoided.

Hey Doug, nobody cares how you do it in Canada......this is the United States, not USA jr.

communities and leaders forget that the social contract that exists between authority and citizens demands scrupulous adherence to the ideals of fairness from law enforcement officers. I have worked and lived in to many places outside (and inside) the United States where the treatment you were given by the police was dependent on the either the color of your skin, your passport or your money. When I read that someone was shot by and police officer in LA (county) I wonder what they were shot for. When I hear an officer has been shot I have a pretty good idea what happened. When you break the social contract and don't play by the rules, both good people and bad people stop playing by the rules too.

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