A federal jury has handed down the latest multimillion-dollar verdict against the Los Angeles Police Department, finding officers were “malicious” and excessive when they shot a mentally ill woman and used a Taser on her, reports the Los Angeles Times. The $3.2-million award in U.S. District Court adds to a long string of verdicts and settlements in police-related cases that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the last decade. It comes as officials struggle to find ways to slow the stream of lawsuits filed against officers each year.
The new case stems from a 2009 confrontation between two officers and Valerie Allen, then a 37-year-old woman who suffered from bipolar disorder. Despite treating her condition with medication, Allen had fallen into a manic episode, one of her attorneys said, and wandered city streets for hours throughout the night. Shortly after dawn, a passerby saw Allen wearing only a shirt and talking incoherently. When two officers pulled alongside Allen, she rushed up to the officers’ patrol car and banged on the passenger-side window before running away. After she struck one officer with a wooden stake, the other officer shot her three times in the chest, stomach, and arm. Police Chief Charlie Beck said, “I don’t expect my officers to be hurt or killed by someone before they act.”