That’s in addition to the $15.1 million federal civil-rights verdict attorneys won for Leonard Thomas’ family and estate.
Attorneys for an unarmed African-American man killed by a Lakewood police SWAT sniper following a standoff in 2013 are seeking nearly $2.3 million in fees and costs from Lakewood police. That’s in addition to the $15.1 million federal civil-rights verdict they won for the man’s family and estate.
Documents filed by attorneys who represented the mother, father, 9-year-old son and estate of 30-year-old Leonard Thomas said it required more than 5,600 hours of work by lawyers, paralegals, investigators, crime-scene reconstructors and others to prepare for trial.
After 14 days of testimony and four days of deliberations this past month, a seven-member jury unanimously found Lakewood police — in particular Chief Mike Zaro, Sgt. Brian Markert and Officer Michael Wiley — liable for a range of constitutional violations that led to Thomas’ death.
In one of the largest police-abuse jury verdicts in state history, the panel awarded compensatory damages in the amount of $4 million to Thomas’ son; $1.885 million to his estate; and $1.375 million each to his mother and father.
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Moreover, the panel imposed punitive damages of $3 million on Zaro, who was the SWAT team commander that night, $2 million on Markert, the sniper who shot Thomas, and $1.5 million on Wiley, who led an assault team that used explosives to breach a back door of the home on Zaro’s order, setting in motion events that led to the shooting.
Police had responded to an argument between Thomas and his mother, leading to a four-hour standoff in which Thomas refused to come out of his house with his 4-year-old son. Officers called out the SWAT team, which arrived with 29 heavily armed officers and two armored vehicles.
Thomas had agreed with negotiators that he would let the child go home with his mother and was on the front porch with a car seat and backpack of clothes when Zaro ordered the explosive breach. Thomas reacted by reaching for his son, and that’s when Markert shot him from across the street, claiming he was assaulting the child.
A former SWAT trainer with the Los Angeles Police Department, testifying for the plaintiffs, said that SWAT never should have been called, and that the child was never a hostage.
Zaro has declined to comment on the verdict, and city…