TORRANCE, CA — Police officers rammed into an innocent motorist’s vehicle so violently that they knocked off a wheel, then opened fire and riddled the truck with bullets. The motorist was then yanked from his vehicle and had a gun held to his head. Many months have passed and the criminal cops are still being protected by their superiors and held blameless and unaccountable.
On the morning of February 7th, 2013, police in Los Angeles were already in a hysterical frenzy looking for a murder suspect, a former LAPD officer named Christopher Dorner, who had allegedly promised to target Los Angeles police officers for the perceived injustice he believed had been done to him by the department. As is often seen when police officers are threatened, civil rights of the public were set aside and an aggressive and violent manhunt ensued. LAPD performed door-to-door searches, set up checkpoints, searched vehicles and buildings at gunpoint, and actively posted guards and patrols around the homes of department VIPs. Most dramatically, police shot up multiple innocent vehicles.
In Torrance, a 38-year-old baggage handler at Los Angeles International Airport named David Perdue was driving to pick up a friend to do some surfing before work. Around 5:45 a.m., Perdue was flagged down by two Torrance police officers who were strategically parked in their car as part of the Dorner dragnet. Without cause, Perdue was stopped and made to give his identity, explain his destination, and his reason for driving in the area. Perdue patiently complied with their questions and showed them his surfboards and told them about his job at LAX. The officers were “fully satisfied” with his answers, according to the lawsuit. Police then told Perdue to turn around go back the way he came, and he complied.
Now driving the opposite direction as instructed, Perdue then saw another Torrance Police vehicle come around the corner traveling towards him on Flagler Lane. Perdue pulled his truck to the side of the road.
“Without any warning, the second Torrance police car accelerated to 25-30 mils per hour, suddenly turned and crashed broadside into David’s black Honda Ridgeline, spinning him around and tearing off the rear axle. The airbags and side curtain airbags in David’s vehicle deployed. David’s upper body was thrown over the console, toward the passenger seat,” the lawsuit states.
One or both of the unnamed officers then opened fire on Perdue, riddling the truck with bullets that pierced the windshield and the airbags, narrowly missing the innocent driver. Perdue was then ripped from the driver’s seat and a gun was placed to his head, and he was forced to lay face down on the street.
[ UPDATE: The attackers have been identified as Torrance Police Officers Brian McGee and Erin Sooper. ]
The police alleged that they thought they were attacking Christopher Dorner; a 6’2″ 270-lb muscular black man with a shaved head driving a 2005 charcoal-gray Nissan Titan pickup truck, with a roof-rack and oversized tires. David Perdue is a white man, under 6′ tall with a small build, who was driving a black Honda Ridgeline pickup truck.
It is evident that the two officers had absolutely no idea of who they were attacking. But once they had Perdue spread out on the concrete, there could be no doubt that he did not match the description of Dorner whatsoever. Despite this, Perdue was held in handcuffs for an hour while they searched his vehicle.
“I don’t want to use the word buffoonery but it really is unbridled police lawlessness,” said Robert Sheahen, Perdue’s attorney. “These people need training and they need restraint.”
Perdue’s lawsuit documents how the Torrance police and the city attorney refused to accept responsibility for the shooting and instead “published false and conflicting accounts of what happened.” It documents that the Torrence city attorney claimed that the officers’ attempt to kill someone who they could not see or identify was “clearly…reasonable” and “appropriate.”
Torrance Police Chief John Neu attempted to shift blame to Perdue in media statements, claiming that Purdue appeared to be “fleeing the scene” and that his vehicle was “traveling toward” the officers. Torrance PD also issued a statement on February 10th that the vehicle was “suddenly leaving the area and seemingly veered into the patrol car.” Torrance PD claimed, “In the split seconds available to them the action was appropriate to intervene and stop the actions of the driver of that vehicle.”
The city made every effort to conceal the crime. They refused to release the identities of the two shooters. They refused to release the dash-cam videos. They refused to release audio recordings of the radio transmissions before and after the attack. They refused to let Perdue and his attorney examine the police vehicle as requested. They even refused to release copies of the incident report and any copies of any witness statements. “They have done everything they can to stonewall us,” Sheahen said to the LA Times.
Instead of admitting culpability and negotiating a settlement with the victim, the city beefed up its legal defenses to the tune of $250,000.oo in order to defeat Perdue’s claim in court. “We would rather go to battle and lose than give money away,” said Mayor Frank Scotto said. City officials responding to Perdue’s lawsuit said that he was responsible for his injuries in part because of his “own negligent or deliberate actions.”
Since the incident, Purdue has suffered numerous problems as a result of the attack. He has been in “constant pain” and has been unable to work or sleep properly due to brain and spinal injuries. He now suffers from nightmares and is being medicated for anxiety and depression.
Finally after six months of medical bills, suffering from physical problems and being unable to work, and having a totaled vehicle, Torrance finally offered David Perdue $20,000 to cover the cost of his truck that they destroyed. But this offering hasn’t nearly covered the costs of what Perdue’s family has gone through. “You’ve got all manner of damages. You’ve got damages from the impact, you’ve got the psychological damages from the shooting, and you’ve got nightmares, and he is unable to sleep, and he is unable to work, and he is unable to walk properly. It’s just been a living hell for this family,” said Sheahen.
Amazingly, Perdue wasn’t the only innocent victim of the Torrence police that morning. In a separate incident 25 minutes earlier on February 7th, Torrance police officers opened fire on two female Latino newspaper deliverers driving on a residential street. Police had again mistaken the two women for one large muscular black male suspect. The uniformed hit squad shot over 102 rounds into the women’s blue pickup truck, not counting rounds that missed. Similarly, the attackers were protected and their identities concealed, but the city was ordered to pay $4.2 million to their victims.
Perdue’s lawyer said the city has stalled on any meaningful settlement talks with his client and rejected their settlement offer, so they plan to take this matter to court.
Even if Perdue wins some tax dollars from the city, justice is unlikely to be found, given that all of the attackers in both cases are apparently going to walk away, scot free, without so much as being identified or publicly reprimanded in any way, whatsoever.
In two equally negligent attacks, multiple groups Torrance police police officers opened fire on innocent people. And in each case, the officers are immune from the consequences of their actions. A monetary settlement is important to restore the victim, but concerned citizens should be demanding that these criminal cops be taken off the police force and face justice. To protect and defend this level of incompetence and misbehavior is a sad, disgraceful reflection of the administration. The attackers should be publicly fired, placed under arrest, and the department leaders should be replaced at once for excusing criminal behavior. Only citizen outrage can get these bumbling, hair-trigger maniacs off the streets before they dump a couple dozen rounds into another unidentified, innocent target.
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UPDATE: ATTACK DECLARED A “REASONABLE MISTAKE”
The district attorney has issued a report excusing the attempted murder of Davide Perdue. Prosecutors are calling the shooting “justified” and a “reasonable mistake.”
Officer Brian McGee and Officer Erin Sooper have been named as the cops in the patrol car that attacked Perdue.
The D.A. report said the officers were in “an atmosphere of fear and extreme anticipation” and therefore had justification for ramming and attacking a completely unidentified target in a random truck. “McGee’s belief that Dorner was driving the truck was reasonable,” prosecutors declared.
The government decided that the “circumstances” were to blame, not the erratic and irresponsible officers.
“Being anxious and afraid does not justify attempting to execute a man on his way to go surfing,” Sheahen said. “It’s gibberish from the D.A.’s office covering up the buffoonery of the Torrance police.”
Perdue’s lawyer says the report was a “whitewash” that contradicted or ignored other evidence. “They made findings of fact without questioning witnesses,” he said. “They just ignored any facts that were contrary to the preconceived notion that these officers should not be prosecuted.”
“The idea that you can say that if you are anxious and afraid, you can shoot at any given pick-up truck — bodes very ominously for society at large,” Sheahen said. “Because that means a million people were subject to being shot by these officers that morning.”
UPDATE: SETTLEMENT REACHED
The City of Torrance has settled with David Perdue for $1.8 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“For them to decide to use their car to intervene and take that action, it took a lot of courage to do that,” said Torrance Police Chief Mark Matsuda. He lauded their efforts to “proactively” protect the community.
Both officers Brian McGee and Erin Sooper continue to be employed by the Torrance Police Department.
Demand the firing and prosecution of Officers Brian McGee and Erin Sooper.
Read the lawsuit here.