The family of Vachel Howard, a Los Angeles native who was killed in police custody in 2012, will receive a nearly $3 million settlement from the city over his death, CNN reports.
A settlement of $2.85 million will be awarded to Howard’s mother Irma, his daughter Tushana, and the rest of his family. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer, declined to comment on the suit.
Just a few years before the death of Eric Garner, Howard died at the hands of an LAPD officer when he was placed in a “modified carotid restraint” — or chokehold — by detention officer Juan Romero. The 56-year-old grandfather was pulled over on the night of June 4, 2012 for drunk driving in a South Los Angeles neighborhood.
Howard informed the officers he was a paranoid schizophrenic and wasn’t taking his medication. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department added in a report that Howard was also under the influence of cocaine.
After several officers took Howard to LAPD’s 77th Street jail, he allegedly became combative. The officers then stunned the grandfather with a Taser before Romero placed him in a chokehold to restrain him.
Romero told investigators he applied the hold for only seconds and believed he had to because Howard seemed impervious to the Taser, was continuing to struggle and attempted to bite him, according to the documents. He said he believed the suspect, who stood 5′ 10” and weighed 247 pounds, posed a deadly threat to officers.
Nurses attempted CPR on Howard after the chokehold, but he remained unresponsive. He died at the jail. Following Howard’s death, Romero was suspended for 22 days, but reportedly remained on the job.
Courthouse News reports Irma Howard, the victim’s mother, filed the lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, police chief Charlie Beck, and seven police officers and supervisors for the wrongful death of her son in April 2014 after a medical examiner labeled his death a homicide. The autopsy declared Howard died of “effects of neck compression, coronary atherosclerosis with thrombosis and cocaine intoxication.”
L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey decided not to bring criminal charges against Romero, calling his actions “a reasonable escalation in the use of force,” during the incident.
Howard’s family called him a “gentle giant” who often looked out for people in the community.
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