By Alexa Hyland
Daily Journal Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES - The parents of a 22-year-old
man who was fatally shot by police will divide $1 million, under a
settlement reached with the city of Fontana, where the shooting occurred.
The settlement stems from the shooting of
Randy Perchez near the home of his mother, Catherine Olivas, when police
were patrolling the area for suspected gang activity.
In the settlement, Olivas will receive
$825,000, and Perchez's father, Randy Perchez Sr., will get $175,000. Olivas
v. City of Fontana, CV05-34 (C.D. Cal., filed Jan. 12,
Pasadena-based plaintiffs' attorney John
C. Burton, who represented Olivas in the suit, said it was unusual that
the parents of the victim had separate attorneys.
"We were unable to decide how the
money should be allocated between our two camps," he said.
He said they eventually agreed that Olivas
would receive the majority of the money because Perchez was living with
her at the time of the shooting.
Stanley Rozanski and Matthew Surlin of
Rozanski & Associates in Los Angeles represented Perchez Sr.
Federal Magistrate Judge Oswald Parada,
who divided the funds between Olivas and Perchez Sr., also granted the
plaintiffs' attorneys' request for $250,000 in legal expenses.
Insurers will pay the settlement.
Before agreeing to the February
settlement, the city of Fontana and the Fontana Police Department tried
to have the case thrown out through summary judgment. They objected to
the claims that the death deprived the parents of a familial
relationship, that the city was liable because it condoned police Officer
Richard Guerrero's use of force and failed to discipline him, and that
the shooting resulted in a wrongful death.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson granted
summary judgment on the city's familial-relationship claim but denied the
motions to absolve the city from liability for a wrongful death and for
its lack of discipline of the officer.
Outside counsel Shelton Harrell of Lynberg
& Watkins in Orange represented Fontana.
The shooting occurred in February 2004,
according to court records based on police reports.
Guerrero, who was part of a patrol checking
the area for reported gang activity, shot Perchez after a chase and
scuffle, according to the court records. Police say Perchez and a friend
fled from Olivas' home after officers entered the residence looking for
gang members who had been outside. Perchez was shot when he refused to
stay prone on the ground and when he grabbed for Guerrero's flashlight,
A witness quoted by Burton in Olivas' suit
said Perchez went for Guerrero's flashlight because Perchez was unable to
breathe when the officer used the flashlight to apply a choke hold.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's
Department investigated the shooting and expressed concerns about the
incident but concluded it was justified. The district attorney's office
did not prosecute Guerrero, but refused to classify the shooting as
"This is one I really felt they
should have prosecuted," Burton said. "[Perchez] was dressed in
slacks and a tank top - he's 5 feet 3 inches and 123 pounds. He wasn't
The settlement comes at a time when
critics are questioning the lack of prosecution of officer-involved
shootings. Since 2000, the San Bernardino district attorney's office has
found four of 127 investigated officer-involved shootings unjustified.