The family of an aspiring TV producer, who was taken hostage at an apartment at 939 Palm Ave. in West Hollywood and then killed by sheriff’s deputies who mistakenly thought he was a suspect, have settled a federal lawsuit alleging they were negligent and used excessive force, City News Service confirmed today.
John Winkler, 30, was shot and killed one year ago today — April 7, 2014 — by deputies responding to a report of a man with a knife at an apartment complex.
Sim Osborn, attorney for the family, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department agreed to the settlement on March 30, but the Board of Supervisors must still sign off on the deal. Osborn declined to disclose the monetary value of the settlement pending review by the board. In April last year Winkler’s lawyer filed a claim against the Sheriff’s Department for $25 million in damages.
“We are gratified that we could reach this settlement on the first anniversary of John’s death, and hope that this agreement will allow his family some measure of closure,” Osborn said.
The lawsuit alleged that before the shooting, a woman in the apartment complex showed deputies photos of Alexander McDonald — the actual suspect — and Winkler, identifying McDonald as the assailant. One deputy showed the photo of McDonald to other deputies, saying “Alex is our guy,” according to the suit.
Authorities later said Winkler was actually being held hostage by the suspect, who was also shot but survived. McDonald is awaiting trial on murder and other charges.
The lawsuit, filed in December, sought unspecified damages, naming Los Angeles County, the sheriff’s department and three deputies: Michael Fairbank, Byron Holloway and Gerardo Valdivia.
A minute order issued today by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee indicates that “the case has settled in its entirety.” The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the settlement at a future meeting.
Still pending is another claim for $25 million in damages filed against the Sheriff’s Department by Liam Mulligan, who also was shot by West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station deputies as he ran out of the apartment with Winkler. Mulligan was bleeding from a stab wound to his neck as he ran outside, where deputies shot him in the leg.
Let’s not forget the tragic deaths of too many black men around the country. What is going on? Are law enforcement officers inadequately trained? Why shoot to kill as opposed to shouting commands to surrender or use a taser, etc. Or if the officer must shoot, then shoot to injure – not kill. A sad commentary !
there is no winner in this sad #weho story. i’ve been here since 94 and i think this is one of the top 5 saddest stories.
@Woody McBreairty – thank you. Saved me a lot of time. Nicely said.
This should have been one of the most important issues in the last election but it was not. I went to the last candidates’ forum in Plummer Park, and submitted this issue as a subject. The moderator gave the candidates 30 second each to respond. We are a tiny city. We don’t need questions filtered through moderators at candidate forums.
So glad this is what my city taxes are paying for. Cowboy police incompetence. Thanks West Hollywood.
when did the comments become longer than the articles 🙂 ?
wishing only the best to the family of this young man who lost his life, unnecessarily.
There is no way to defend the death of this young man by rational thinkers. When I look at this picture of John Winkler, I get a lump in my throat & I could cry, that this man was senselessly shot down in the prime of his life, seeking help as he fled his attacker. And another young man’s life & limb were needlessly crippled by the same act of irresponsibility by those who are sworn to protect the public. One suspect… 2 victims shot & many lives ruined. John Winkler should not have died but did so at the… Read more »
I’m pretty sure the LASD didn’t want this to go to trial. This way, the details will be sealed or confidential, so the public never learns the details. The Sheriffs made a very bad mistake that fateful day and Mr. Winkler paid for it with his life. Sad for all involved. Still, I’m betting the deputy (never specifically identified – only listed as one of two or three that fired shots) will still keep his job.