County reaches $2.7 million settlement with family of man killed by SCV deputy

An officer walks through the scene at Shangri La Drive and Nathan Hill Drive in Canyon Country following an officer-involved shooting on Jan. 13, 2016. (KATHARINE LOTZE/Signal)


A $2.7 million settlement agreement has been reached between Los Angeles County and the family of a Saugus man shot and killed by a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy during a traffic stop just over two years ago, the lawyer for the family said.

Miguel and Anna Hernandez filed a civil rights lawsuit in April 2016 against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department over the death of their 39-year-old son Miguel A. Hernandez.

“No amount of money equates to a life taken,” attorney John Burton told The Signal on Wednesday, noting the amount of the settlement.

On Sept. 28, 2017, US District Court Judge John F. Walter dismissed the civil rights case after a notice of settlement had been filed.

“The parties represent that they have settled this action,” the court reported in a summary of the case posted online. “As a result, the court dismisses this action without prejudice.”

“We came to a settlement after a full day of mediation,” Burton said.

“Our feeling after the disposition was given by the deputy (Nathan Gillespie) who did the shooting was that he honestly felt bad and that he didn’t do what usually happens – he didn’t make outlandish claims,” Burton said. “(Gillespie) was straight up about what happened.”

On Jan. 14, 2016, between 7:30 p.m and 8 p.m., Miguel Hernandez was driving his car on Shangri-La Drive when Gillespie  “effected a traffic stop as Miguel was turning left onto Nathan Hill Drive,” parents of the slain man claimed in their lawsuit.

The deputy pulled the suspect’s car over and the driver immediately stepped out and started yelling profanities at the deputy while appearing to challenge him to a fight, according Lt. Eddie Hernandez, of the LASD’s Homicide Bureau who spoke to The Signal shortly after the shooting.

The deputy repeatedly ordered the man to put his hands in the air, but Hernandez ignored all commands, Lt. Hernandez said, then the man turned his body and appeared to reach for a weapon behind his back before the deputy opened fire.

“The deputy ordered Miguel to get back in the car,” the lawsuit said. “As Miguel turned to comply with the instruction to get back in the car, the deputy fired one shot from his pistol, which struck Miguel, who then dropped to the ground.”

The lawsuit also claimed the deputy failed to summon medical help promptly, and by the time it arrived, it was too late to save Miguel Hernandez’s life.

Detectives also recovered a knife at the scene, described as a “black folding knife with a rubber combat grip and a three-inch blade,” Lt. Hernandez said in 2016.

The lawsuit stated: “Miguel had nothing in his hands and was not belligerent.”

Burton, who at one point amended the lawsuit to include the deceased man’s three children, said Wednesday the settlement “would put the three children through college.”

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