$5.2 Million Lawsuit Against Cop In Viral Video Gets Dismissed
Anaheim, CA – The family of a teenager who sued an off-duty Los Angeles police officer after a scuffle outside his home have agreed to drop their lawsuit after realizing they'd likely lose and be stuck with the legal fees.
The City of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Police Department were also listed in the lawsuit, KNBC reported.
Christian Dorscht was 13 years old at the time of the 2017 confrontation in off-duty Los Angeles Police Officer Kevin Ferguson’s front yard, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The altercation was captured in a cell phone video, and quickly went viral.
Dorscht’s family field the suit on Feb. 28, 2017, alleging that Officer Ferguson violated the teen’s civil rights, caused him emotional distress, and assaulted and falsely imprisoned him.
The family originally sued for $5.2 million, but agreed to dismiss the lawsuit on Aug. 30 to avoid having to pay legal fees.
Officer Ferguson's attorney, John Christl, said the lawsuit was "thin," and that the boy's family was "going to have a tough time trying the liability" of the officer and the police agencies, The Orange County Register reported.
The incident occurred just after 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 21, 2017, as Dorscht and three of his friends were walking near Officer Ferguson’s residence.
The officer had been having problems with kids cutting across his lawn, so when one of Dorscht’s friends marched through his yard, the officer cursed at her, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the lawsuit, Dorscht told Officer Ferguson to speak to the girl “in a nicer manner.”
Officer Ferguson said that the teen said he was going to “shoot” the officer, but the teen claims he said only said "sue," KNBC reported.
Officer Ferguson pursued the group and attempted to detain Dorscht, who wriggled away from him several times.
Several more teens flocked to the area and surrounded Officer Ferguson as he held onto Dorscht near a hedge, the video showed.
A 16-year-old boy tackled the officer, punching him in the face and knocking him over the hedge, KNBC reported.
Prosecutors said another teen then grabbed a pencil or pen from behind his ear and came towards the officer while repositioning the item into his back pocket.
Officer Ferguson believed the teen had a weapon, so he drew his handgun and fired it into the ground.
The officer said it was a warning shot, KNBC reported.
He told investigators that he believed the unruly crowd was going to “gang up on me” and “beat the…out of me,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck wrote in a report, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen," the officer explained.
In February, the Orange County District Attorney announced that no criminal charges would be filed against Officer Ferguson in connection with the altercation, KNBC reported.
“It is our office's conclusion based on all the evidence, that we are not able to prove, the evidence does not support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Ferguson committed a crime," Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said at the time.
Prosecutors also called the officer’s actions “unwise, immature, and flat-out horrible.”
“The evidence does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Ferguson used an unreasonable amount of force” during the altercation, prosecutors said.
Approximately two weeks later, the Los Angeles Police Department determined that Officer Ferguson violated department policy during the confrontation.
Officer Ferguson has since resigned from the department, The Orange County Register reported.
“It’s really a shame,” Christl said. “He’s a good man, and I’m sure was a good officer.”
“This turned [his] life upside down, but we’re happy to have it resolved so he can get back to his life,” Christl added.