LOS ANGELES (CNS) -The adult children of a woman who was accidentally killed by LAPD gunfire while being held hostage by a knife-wielding suspect in Van Nuys are suing the city and two officers.
Jesse Pelaez, Nick Ramirez and Rebecca Tollison, the children of 49-year-old Elizabeth Tollison, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, naming as defendants the city and Officers Eugene Damiano, Andrew Trock and Christian Bonilla. They are seeking unspecified damages.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit, which was filed a little more than a month after Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore released body-camera footage of the shooting that resulted in Tollison’s death as she was held hostage by her assailant, who also was killed.
Moore said officers went to the Central Lutheran Church, the site of a homeless outreach center in the 6400 block of Tyrone Avenue, around 1:10 p.m. June 16 in response to a report of a man with a knife assaulting a woman.
After a tense standoff, officers shot Guillermo Perez, 32, as he held a large serrated knife to the neck of Tollison, he said.
According to the lawsuit, the officers should have known that Perez was “mentally ill, emotionally disturbed and/or undergoing a mental health crisis.”
The officers “negligently assessed the situation presented to them” and proceeded to “violently confront” Perez without making an effort “to contain or isolate” the suspect and without trying to move Tollison to a position of safety, the suit alleges.
Two of the 18 bullets fired by the officers hit Tollison in the head and left shoulder, the suit states. She died at a hospital two days later as a direct result of the officers’ allegedly negligent actions, the suit says.
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