On Monday, a federal jury reached a unanimous decision by awarding $13.5 million to the family of Jacobo Juarez Cedillo. Cedillo lost his life following an encounter with Los Angeles police officers in 2019. The jury determined that the actions taken by the officers on April 8, 2019, were excessive and unreasonable, and they displayed deliberate indifference to Cedillo's constitutional rights.
In bodycam footage released by the LAPD, Cedillo can be heard struggling with officers, asserting that he was not armed. Initially, officers claimed they handcuffed him when they found him on the ground of a gas station parking lot to ensure his well-being. Cedillo cooperated but grew agitated, leading the officers to pin him down in a prone position for 4 minutes and 20 seconds, restricting his breathing until he lost consciousness. Although Cedillo briefly awoke, officers restrained him again for an additional 2 minutes and 46 seconds, once more cutting off his air supply. Tragically, Cedillo succumbed to these injuries days later in a hospital.
Despite the LAPD's assertion that the officers' actions were reasonable and in line with department policy, Chief Michel Moore expressed a desire for a different approach to Cedillo's detention. Regrettably, no criminal charges were filed in this case.
"Nothing brings my dad back, but I think it's really important that the police officers are held accountable," Cedillo's daughter, Nicole Juarez Zelaya, said during a news conference Monday after the verdict. "I think that the LAPD needs to be held to a higher standard."
The bodycam footage vividly illustrates a distressing pattern of excessive force and disregard for human life, all too familiar in cases involving police interactions with marginalized communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Jacobo Juarez Cedillo.