LOS ANGELES, Ca (March 9, 2017)— Today a jury awarded $255,000 for emotional distress and $180,000 in punitive damages to a man who sued the Los Angeles Police Department in Federal Court for violating his constitutional rights and for malicious prosecution by an on-duty LAPD detective.
The plaintiff, Robert Rodriguez, is a general contractor who had just left a jobsite on December 10, 2014, when he went to buy lunch at a sandwich shop. Rodriguez was wearing dusty work clothes when he encountered on-duty LAPD detective, Douglas Johnson. Rodriguez believes he was profiled when the detective sarcastically stated, “I like your shirt.” Rodriguez knew the statement was meant sarcastically and muttered under his breath, “Punk ass.”
Detective Johnson and his partner left the restaurant and the plaintiff believed the situation was over. In reality, Johnson left the restaurant and called for Code 3 emergency back-up and claimed that a possibly armed, possibly drunk or high individual just threatened to kill him.
Back up officers arrived on the scene and arrested Rodriguez. Charges were brought against Rodriguez for criminal threats and Detective Johnson continuously testified that his life was threatened, even though no witnesses in the restaurant heard the alleged threat. Rodriguez was eventually acquitted of all charges in the underlying criminal case.
Yesterday, the jury unanimously found the defendant, Johnson, arrested Rodriguez without probable cause, searched him without probable cause, and intentionally fabricated and falsified evidence. The jury also determined that Johnson maliciously prosecuted the plaintiff by bringing false charges against him and intentionally caused the plaintiff extreme emotional distress.
“This is an important victory for my client and the entire Los Angeles community because it shows the jury system works,” said plaintiff attorney Gregory Kirakosian. “Law enforcement officers must be held accountable when their reckless actions infringe on people’s civil rights,” added Kirakosian.
Kirakosian Law is a Los Angeles plaintiffs’ law firm that fights for justice on behalf of individuals who have been injured or whose civil rights have been violated.