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Old 06-13-2012, 06:18 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,935,371 times
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I'm going to try to make this as objective and short as possible, but this has to do with my family so I apologize in advance in the short portion doesn't happen. We've been stewing over this for the past six months, have contacted numerous attorneys to no avail, so maybe putting it online might generate some collective wisdom that might help us. I know I'm going to invite some "that was stupid, he deserved what he got" responses - if that's all you've got to say, I'd like to kindly ask that you don't. Anyways, now that the long and winded disclaimer is over with, here goes.

December 6th, 2011. My father (73 years old, poor health and knowledge of English) is walking home to Encino from a Vons in Tarzana. Walking is about the only exercise he gets, so on short (a mile or two) errands he prefers it over driving his Civic. As he passes Etiwanda and crosses the street, he notices a car at the intersection sputtering and about to roll into the intersection. He walks back and sees an elderly woman behind the wheel panicking. For whatever reason she can't get moving and keeps turning the car on and off as it keeps sputtering towards Ventura and is about to roll into oncoming traffic (cars behind are honking and passing). He walks up, knocks on the window and, in his broken English, offers to help get her out of danger's way.

Now note the sequence of events. The woman turns the car off and allows him to take the wheel. He opens the door behind him and tells her - get in, I'll get you to safety and you can go on your way (not in those words, but that was the general idea). The driver's window is down and he hears her say something like "thanks for helping me, you're a good man, what do you do (for a living, I presume)?" He answers that he's retired, closes the driver's door and makes the turn out of the intersection (going left towards Lindley for the locals). He pulls over about 0.15 miles away from the intersection, by Chimineas Avenue (so not even a block away), turns around and says: "Car is OK, you can drive." As he's about to get out of the car, he sees that there is nobody behind him.

Holy **** moment. Did she fall out? Did she get run over? What the hell happened? He runs back to the intersection - there's nobody there. He gets out of the car and tries calling 911 but for some reason he never got it dialed (not technologically savvy at all). So he calls my mother (his ex-wife) and me and, Murphy's law in full swing, is unable to get ahold of either one of us. Twenty minutes later, after three panicked voice mails, I finally pick up (was at the gym and in the shower, didn't hear the phone). Small detail - I'm in Virginia at the time (I was going to school there). He tells me what happened and both my mom, whom he had managed to get ahold of by then and I call police and explain to them the situation. All of this is well-documented on the AT&T bills I have. The officer on the phone conferences my dad in on a three-way and asks if there is any ID in the car so he could locate the owner and asks for the license plate. The woman's purse was in the car and my dad saw a check book which had fallen out, so he gave me and the officer whatever info he could find. The officer told him to get out of the car and just stand next to it and wait for help. About five minutes later, three police cars arrive in fairly quick sequience and I can hear my dad get arrested as he dropped the phone and it was lying on the ground until getting picked up by one of the LAPD officers. Not one question asked.

He is then taken to a holding center on Wilbur/Victory where in no uncertain terms a female commanding officer (or whoever the hell she was - sadly I don't have that information) tells him that he has stolen a car. Oh, really? Eventually my mother got there and was treated abhorrently. These people convicted him without hearing any of his story which he eventually told them. Turns out, the 84-year-old "victim" had a senior moment (sorry, this is where objectivity fails me because this is complete and utter BS) and accused my father of "pushing her and driving off", a story she recanted saying she was "unsure" of it some 24 hours later. Again, his side of the story doesn't matter. Nevermind that he has no reason whatsoever to steal a car, has no record whatsoever (hell, his last parking ticket was five years ago) and, although is in perfectly sound mind, is in horrible health. Some criminal... He is then transferred to Van Nuys and is set to be arraigned on the charge of carjacking (not just plain ol' GTA!) with a bail of $100,000 (statutory; set by the intake officer at the Wilbur holding site).

All this time, I'm still in VA, although set to fly home in a couple of days. The next morning, December 7th, thanks to some great friends in the DC area, I'm booked on the first United flight available, hop in my car, drive 120 miles north and get on the flight. As I am on the way, a detective who had interviewed my father the previous day calls me and unofficially reassures me, saying that the way he hears it it's just a misunderstanding and the DA would most likely not press charges. Off the record, of course. I get to L.A. and the next morning grab my friend who is a recently graduated attorney (dumb move - should have hired a real criminal lawyer right away and saved a bunch of money but we were certain that the absurdity of the case would be evident to the DA and judge and it would get thrown out) to handle the arraignment. Despite the fact that all evidence - the "victim" being unsure of what happened and inconsistent in her story, my father's attempts to call the cops, his lack of record, an appeal on his behalf by the probation department for ROR or a reduced bail, the fact that he subsists on SSI and can't go ANYWHERE due to his health, not to mention the mother$%^@#&^ supposition that bail is set to ensure appearance and not punish (yeah, right), the DDA makes the argument that the victim's age (since at 73 my father is, apparently, a teenager) and the violent nature (the fact that is disputed by the "victim" herself) of the crime merits bail of $100K to be kept as is. The judge (Commissioner Mitchell Block) amazingly agrees. Off to the Downtown L.A. jail with him! This is now the evening of December 8th. He tries calling us collect, we spend about $50 on being able to accept his calls through a system that works about once out of ten times; finally, as we are unable to retrieve his health records and make another appeal to the same Commissioner for a release, we drive to a bail bondsman, put up all we've got in property and get the bond. After spending a whole day waiting in Downtown, I pick my father up on the evening of the 9th.

According to my father, he has rarely been treated with the same respect as his cell mates had shown him in the jail. No kidding. They probably have never seen a truly innocent man being slapped with $100K bail, either. Everyone I tell the story to, many attorneys among them, are floored. We hire a real attorney and, $8K in bail fees (which we scrapped together with the help of the same amazing friends of mine from DC who paid for my ticket home) and $3.5K in attorney's fees later, the case was dropped a month and a half after the whole debacle happened.

So now what? We're out about 12 grand, which, given my grad school debt is no small sum. We've spoken to a number of attorneys and nobody wants the case. Maybe if the cops had knocked what teeth my father has left in, then... Honestly, we're beyond common logic at this point. All my dad wanted to to was to get an old lady out of a very possible traffic accident and he got three days in jail and a $12K bill for his troubles. In my (albeit biased) opinion, someone's got to pay for this. Who? And how? I'd love to tell this story to any media sources that will listen, but my fear is that this is simply not "interesting enough" for them. Would love to hear any advice you might have.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:27 AM
 
Location: the Beaver State
6,466 posts, read 11,879,343 times
Reputation: 3546
Sorry to hear about your troubles, it's a sad world that it doesn't pay to be nice anymore.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:37 AM
 
Location: Declezville, CA
16,630 posts, read 34,721,182 times
Reputation: 16980
What is dad's mother tongue?
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:43 AM
 
25,627 posts, read 31,534,626 times
Reputation: 23139
So your looking for advice to file a civil suit against the city as I am reading this correctly?

Sounds like a story for the media if you can get some one to publish it.

That would be the most likely way to get a blood suckers to come out of the swamp to take your case.

Money, high profile or both usually works.

Since the leeches are not seeing the money in this case then you need to try the high profile route.

Yes some of my best friends are leeches.

Good luck.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:48 AM
 
25,627 posts, read 31,534,626 times
Reputation: 23139
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fontucky View Post
What is dad's mother tongue?
Yes good question.

Go the helpless victimized by the system immigrant route.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:27 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,935,371 times
Reputation: 3159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fontucky View Post
What is dad's mother tongue?
Russian.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:28 AM
 
4,020 posts, read 2,935,371 times
Reputation: 3159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogdad View Post
So your looking for advice to file a civil suit against the city as I am reading this correctly?
I wouldn't even go that far to interpret my intentions to be honest. I want to know what options we have. To say that I want to file a lawsuit against the city would be premature but if it's a viable option, we would certainly consider it.
Quote:
Sounds like a story for the media if you can get some one to publish it.

That would be the most likely way to get a blood suckers to come out of the swamp to take your case.

Money, high profile or both usually works.

Since the leeches are not seeing the money in this case then you need to try the high profile route.

Yes some of my best friends are leeches.

Good luck.
Yeah. Funny how that works - I would usually be the first one to tell these guys to eat dirt and yet those are the exact people we need. Ugh...
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Declezville, CA
16,630 posts, read 34,721,182 times
Reputation: 16980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogdad View Post
Yes good question.

Go the helpless victimized by the system immigrant route.
Quote:
Originally Posted by highlanderfil View Post
Russian.
Well, so much for that angle.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:48 AM
 
1,176 posts, read 2,834,588 times
Reputation: 455
Even lawyers hungry for publicity and money won't take the case? May tell you something. You could contact specific columnists, etc. whom you think might be sympathetic (rather than just the main address, etc. for a media outlet), but do try to be much more concise than in your OP, and offer to give full details. Put you objective in the first paragraph. Understand media outlets get letters like this all the time. Is there a Russian cultural organization in the area? Or maybe a scholar at a Russian studies department of a university.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:06 AM
 
4,269 posts, read 9,027,688 times
Reputation: 3262
First thing you have to do is file a claim against the city....

http://cityclerk.lacity.org/cps/pdf/...fordamages.pdf

Theres a statutory limit on how long you can wait between the time of the incident and when you file the claim, but I'm not sure when that is.

For a $12K claim, you won't find an attorney that will file a lawsuit for you once the claim is denied(which I guarantee you it will be). So you're only real recourse would be to file a small claims case which has a maximum award of $10,000.

Unfortunately, going to the media probably wouldn't help, even if they would run the story. LAPD command staff(Captains and above) are not held liable in civil court for matters of incompetence. The judgement would go against the city(taxpayers). As a result, the LAPD command staff personnel have very little to lose in these situations. Even in cases where they commit malfeasance, they are people with 20+ years on the job and they just retire before the investigation even completes. This would be a very good example....the Captain involved retires before the investigation completes, the city is on the hook for his $1 million eff up City must pay cop $1 million in retaliation case - latimes.com

One other thing you can do is to file a complaint against the officers and Captain involved. But honestly, I think the most that will happen is they will be sent for training, or they will be verbally counseled.
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