California Jury Awards $13.2 Million to Family of Man who Died in Chokehold

The narrative described by Anaheim police was not what took place on the video, a jury determined.

A California jury rejected the police narrative in favor of the truth after watching body cam videos showing a pair of cops choking and tasering a homeless man who went into a coma and died.

Anaheim police officers Woojin Jun and Daniel Wolfe had long been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Orange County District Attorney's Office for the death of Fermin Valenzuela on July 2, 2016 even though an autopsy determined he died from complications of asphyxia.

But the jury came away with a different opinion Wednesday when it unanimously agreed that the cops were negligent and used excessive force. The $13.2 million settlement will go to Valenzuela's children.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Marcus, the jury foreman, disagreed. Watching body camera videos released by police convinced him “to make the decision I did. That and other elements like listening to Valenzuela’s two children on the stand.”

The executive recruiter and father of three said he paid close attention to the officers’ testimonies. “They seemed like really wonderful people, but my opinion is that they exercised bad judgment,” he said. “There was very little attempt to deescalate the situation.”

Attorney Mardirossian said he was grateful for the videos.

“Thank God for body cameras, because cameras captured all the wrongdoing of the officers,” he said. “The bottom line is the officers came up with all sorts of stories of Mr. Valenzuela fighting with them, and yet there was not a single mark on Officer Jun’s face, even though he testified that he was struck three times. The body camera does not show Mr. Valenzuela taking a fighter’s stance or throwing a punch.”

Mardirossian also said he hopes police use of force will decrease.

“Police must stop this type of inhumane activity with their subjects,” he said. “The rank and file deserve our respect. However, sometimes mistakes can be made.”

Anaheim police initially confronted Valenzuela inside a laundromat as he was washing clothes because a woman had called police to complain about him following her mother home and who then paced in front of the home. It was later determined he was high on methamphetamine.

Below is a video combining surveillance and body cameras that captured what took place that day.

Comments (10)
No. 1-7
Prashant101
Prashant101

I'm glad that every phone has a camera. This way, some or all portions are documented. The officers obviously used excessive force. I have asthma myself. If I'm being chocked, it would cause an asthma attack. Use of Force doctrine. Force on Force. Match the force used against you. Chocking someone in order for a restraint is not used in any training for law enforcement anywhere.

ajalexxx
ajalexxx

Thank God for body cameras. It records Police's right and wrong doings. It is good for civilians to have these kinds of gadgets, even an ordinary cellphone camera will do.

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Dee1976
Dee1976

The officer said stop resisting but you’re chocking him the entire time he couldn’t breathe he was trying to tell him he was chocking him he gets away and they catch him he gets right back to chocking the guy to death!!! Ridiculous cops!!!!

strandwolf
strandwolf

Comply. Comply. Comply.

packetguy
packetguy

Earning the hate. There is a great YouTube channel called Think Like a Cop that reviews this case and others, and he makes an excellent point about the reason for this kind of abuse: quota hiring leads to the employment of people that are not mentally equipped to be a police officer.

Libertarian
Libertarian

One committed murder/manslaughter. At least one aiding and abetting. Others witnessed and did not intervene. All officers present should be fired. Criminal obstruction charges should be levied against any officer that lied on documents.

Chrome Dome
Chrome Dome

These fools even lies about things when video taped footage shows them in the act of doing their dirty deeds,it’s like oh believe us because y’all eyes are lying 🤥.😡😎