On January 10th, personal injury attorneys James M. Bergener of Bergener Mirejovsky and Mark S. Algorri of Dewitt Algorri & Algorri filed a complaint for a violation of civil rights and wrongful death against the County of Los Angeles, Sheriff Lee Baca and individual deputies involved in a raid conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on June 25, 2013 which resulted in the death of Eugene Mallory.
The complaint addresses both illegal actions of individual officers who conducted the raid and the atmosphere that encouraged their behavior. It includes the actions that preceded the raid that led to Mallory’s death, the raid itself and the subsequent cover-up.
Mallory, who had celebrated his 80th birthday one month prior to his death, had no criminal record. He held a top level government security clearance and worked as an electrical engineer for Lockheed Martin in Palmdale until his seventies when his vision became too poor to perform his duties at the company.
Leading up to the raid, Deputy Patrick Hobbs, among other things, falsely misrepresented to the court that Mallory’s property was the site of a methamphetamine drug operation.
According to the Statement of Probable Cause to search Mallory’s property, Hobbs was driving around the property’s perimeter for the purposes of surveillance and claimed that, “once I was down wind from the location, I could smell the strong odor of chemicals.”
According the the warrant, Hobbs then “formed the expert opinion” that the property was being used as a clandestine methamphetamine lab site, that the storing and/or selling of methamphetamine was ongoing, and that the supply would be replenished after being sold. No methamphetamine, trace thereof, nor evidence of the production, sale, distribution, or use were recovered in the raid.
According to the complaint Hobbs had full knowledge that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had inspected Mallory’s property alongside code enforcement personnel and that no suspected illicit activity was observed upon the property. Hobbs withheld this information from the court.
Hobbs was also knew there was no reason to suspect Mallory would refuse a search. Despite Mallory’s compliance in previous visits from code enforcement and law enforcement, Hobbs obtained a search warrant based on falsified information on June 25, 2013.
Without any evidence or reason to suspect that Eugene Mallory would refuse to comply with a warrant, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a raid on the property. The raid occurred early on the morning of June 27, 2013. Deputies entered the residence without announcing themselves and entered the bedroom where Eugene Mallory was sleeping.
Sheriff’s deputies involved in the shooting claimed that Mallory exited his bedroom and pointed a revolver at the law enforcement officers. According to the coroner’s report, Eugene Mallory stood at 6’4 and the bullets entered his chest and torso at a downward angle
Eugene Mallory was not engaged in any provocative or threatening behavior toward any person. The unconstitutional conduct of the defendants directly led to Eugene Mallory being shot by Sergeant John Bones. Mallory was deprived of medical attention after being shot multiple times, ultimately dying from his wounds.
Tonya Pate’s lawyers were unable to obtain an independent autopsy. Despite full knowledge that Tonya Pate was Eugene Mallory’s lawful wife and heir, permission was sought from out-of-state relatives of Mallory to cremate the body. The cremation was conducted without Pate’s consent and without her knowledge.
Mallory’s wrongful death and the unlawful events which led to it were encouraged by an atmosphere of lawlessness within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Negligence in both hiring and training practices as well as a deliberate indifference to the civil rights of victims are evidenced by the failure to identify and investigate abuses of power. Instances of excessive force against suspects, falsification of evidence, submission of false police reports, and perjury are given no serious investigation and no punishment.
The defendants in the complaint — who were emotionally or otherwise unfit to perform their duties — acted knowing that the policies and atmosphere of the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department would allow a cover-up and allow the continued use of illegal force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
Bergener Mirejovsky are personal injury attorneys serving accident victims throughout California. James Bergener has successfully resolved thousands of cases throughout his legal career. For more information on Mr. Bergener and the firm, visit http://www.bergenerlaw.com.