Published by ABCNEWS.GO.COM
Summary generated on August 10, 2020
While subduing Darren Burley in 2012, deputies "Used their knees to pin him to the ground with as much body weight as possible," according to the court's unanimous ruling.
It said Deputy David Aviles put one knee on the center of Burley's back and the other "Onto the back of Burley's head, near the neck," while other deputies also were involved.
A jury awarded his family $8 million in damages while finding that Burley was 40% responsible for his own death.
Attorney Olu Orange, who represents Burley's family, said the ruling holds that "In the state of California, victims of police misconduct are going to be able to avail themselves of every law in the legal toolkit to redress violations of their civil rights."
The justices said their decision centered on a ballot initiative adopted by California voters in 1986 that assigned damages based on degrees of responsibility, not on Burley's race or that he was killed during an encounter with law enforcement.
Aviles, who weighed 200 pounds, and another deputy were responding to a report of an ongoing assault in Compton when Burley approached them while "Foaming at the mouth and making grunting and growling noises," according to the court's account.
It said Aviles knelt on Burley during a significant struggle while three other deputies Tasered him multiple times without apparent effect.
A witness said one deputy also appeared to attempt a chokehold, a deputy hit Burley repeatedly in the head with a flashlight, and "Burley appeared to be gasping for air."
The high court ruled that the county and its deputies can't share the blame with Burley when it comes to apportioning damages for pain and suffering because deputies acted intentionally, as defined by previous court rulings, rather than negligently.
"In all likelihood, the only reason Darren Burley is not a household name is that his killing was not caught on videotape as Floyd's was," Liu wrote.