Los Angeles SWAT Team Acted Reasonably in Toddler’s Death

An appeal by the family of a toddler killed during a police standoff was denied by the 2nd District Court earlier this month in Los Angeles.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed the decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, who dismissed the case in 2009, finding the officers had acted reasonably in using deadly force.

Suzie Pena was killed by a SWAT officer’s bullet after the team entered the car dealership where the girl was being held by her father, who was armed and fired at police.

Treu had cited the fact that it was impossible for the officers to negotiate with Raul Pena, who was intoxicated and delirious, threatening to kill himself and his daughter.

Attorneys for the girl’s mother had appealed, contending the number of shots collectively fired by the SWAT officers as Pena was holding Suzie as a shield could have led a jury to find that the police were negligent.

In December of 2006, the Los Angeles Police Commission cleared the 30 officers present at the 2 1/2 hour standoff , but found that two officers had violated department policies.

The case has been controversial from the beginning. In 2009, the LA Times published  an article alleging that the LAPD led an “aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to convince coroner’s officials to change their finding that a SWAT officer’s bullet killed” Suzie Pena. They instead wanted the report to show that Suzie’s father had fired the fatal shot.  You can read the full article on the LA Times website.

Information via: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/06/lapd-not-negligent-in-shooting-death-of-19-month-old-girl-in-hostage-rescue-court-rules.html and http://articles.latimes.com/2006/dec/06/local/me-pena6.