Something wasn’t right when John Berry drove up unannounced to his family’s home one day two summers ago. He’d been fired from his job at a pizza parlor and had been getting little sleep, which is not a healthy scenario for someone diagnosed with schizophrenia who appeared to be off his medication. When Berry’s brother, a sworn law enforcement officer, called the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office, he requested a mental evaluation team to try to calm Berry down and transport him to medical care. Instead, after deputies responded to the call about an “insane person” on the residential street where Berry was parked on July 6, 2015, a struggle ensued. Berry was shot 18 times and killed by deputies, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved a $3.3-million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Berry’s mother and other family members, who alleged that deputies used excessive force against Berry. Prosecutors decided last year not to file any charges against the deputies, saying they acted in “lawful self-defense and in defense of other” when they shot at Berry to stop him from ramming his BMW into one of their fellow officers. Berry, according to prosecutors, resisted deputies as they tried to pull him out of his vehicle. “This is not how you treat the mentally ill,” Berry’s brother, Chris, said yesterday. The county spent nearly $51 million in settlements last fiscal year to resolve legal claims against the Sheriff’s Department.