Parents Win $4.5M after Cops Beat Son to Death [Video]
What does it take to win a civil lawsuit, alleging emotional distress?
Lawyers.com videojournalist Matt H. Mayes takes you through a powerful example of this, with the family members of Jose Lucero and their attorney, Michael J. Curls. On December 18, 2010, cops beat Jose to death in front of his family members. They won a $4.5 million award for wrongful death and emotional distress. Matt reviews what happened and how the Luceros won this civil lawsuit against Kern County in California.
What Happened When Sheriff’s Deputies Killed Jose Lucero
In a diminished mental state, while delusional, Jose called 9-1-1. It was believed the delusion was brought on both by Lucero’s mental heath issues and also by methamphetamine intoxication.
Jose’s brother, Esteban Lucero, explains Jose called 9-1-1 claiming his girlfriend had called him saying her boyfriend was beating her up. That never really happened, except for in his head.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Luceros’ family home in Bakersfield, Calif. to investigate the calls.
Jose’s father, Florencio Lucero, describes the cops encounter with his son: “They beat him up so badly that … they beat him up all over. His whole body was broken to pieces. And then my son never got up again.”
Elements Needed to Prove Emotional Distress
Michael explains to prove a case of emotional distress in a civil lawsuit, one needs to have standing to proceed. Standing comes in the form of some relationship between the person who is deceased and the person who is bringing the case. There also needs to be some proximity. The emotional distress comes from having witnessed someone that you love suffer in some sort of way.
“In this particular incident, the parents of Jose Lucero witnessed the officers basically beat him to death and because they had standing, it was their child and they were present, they witnessed it happening, they had the proper standing. They had the proper proximity to the scenario to support a charge of emotional distress,” says Michael.
The Outcome for the Lucero Family
Even with the $4.5 million award, the Luceros can never erase their family’s tragedy.
“I felt like as though this is all just a dream. My brother was, he was a good person and he didn’t deserve the way he died. It was totally uncalled for,” says Esteban.
Watch Matt’s full video above and share your thoughts in the discussion section below.