Jury awards L.A. man $1.3 million for surviving high low speed chase

Winston HayesWinston Hayes is the luckiest man in Los Angeles. Fortunately for him, the court system randomly seated the dumbest jurors in all of L.A. County, who awarded him $1.3 million in his case against the Sheriff’s Department for using “excessive force” against him at the end of a 2005 car chase.

Winston Hayes, 46, suffered nine bullet wounds when deputies fired 120 shots at him at the end of a low-speed pursuit on May 9, 2005. More than half the bullets hit Hayes’ vehicle.*

Hayes, who had used both cocaine and marijuana the night of the chase, was fired upon after his SUV “lurched forward and struck a patrol car” as officers approached him. Previous to the incident, Hayes had been convicted for “arson, assault, theft and resisting arrest.”

No word if the Sheriff’s department can countersue Hayes for using excessive force himself… that is, if attacking law enforcement with an SUV is considered excessive. [source: Yahoo! News via Associated Press, photo from LA Times]

*Yep, “half!” How do you miss a freakin’ SUV?!

8 thoughts on “Jury awards L.A. man $1.3 million for surviving high low speed chase”

  1. yep…scares the crap out of me alright. Which is worse the bad aim or the jury award. Prop 213 should have limited his recovery. Prop 213 set it up where someone couldn’t recover damages if he was convicted of a felony…evading arrest, assault with an auto would seem to have precluded his recovery. Something we miss in the story?

  2. I’m sorry, but was the victim on trial for being a loser or was the Sheriff’s Department for having 10 of its deputies fire 120 rounds at the suspect?

    I have little sympathy for the defendant considering his state at the time of the incident and his past, and I’m aghast at the award, but the officers involved in the mass panic fussilade of bullets was excessive force in the extreme and turned a quiet residential block into a warzone.

    Can someone can tell me how the defendant’s vehicle lurching forward and striking a patrol car put all 10 deputies lives in danger and warranted 120 rounds expended?

  3. The answer to whether the Sheriff can counter-sue for excessive force is sort of yes. Typically, the defendant would’ve gotten an Assault w/Deadly Weapon charge for hitting a deputy (or his car) on top of everything else he was charged with. That’s usually a pretty easy conviction, so I’d be interested to hear how his criminal case ended up. If, in fact, he was convicted on ADW (among others,) you’d think that would preclude his civil suit.

    All of that aside, 120 rounds does seem a bit excessive. And only 50% accuracy? If nothing else, those deputies should be sentenced to some range time to practice getting those rounds to their intended target.

  4. You can’t fire on someone 120 times. I think the thing that people don’t understand is the law.

    Yes this guy was stupid, but as a police officer you’re not allowed to over-react, not matter how pissed off you get. That’s why they pay cops the amount that they get with only a GED. If you want to be that guy that goes around with your GED and do the eye for an eye thing, there are jobs (that are not tax payer supporter) that you can do that.

    Jr High School bully (you don’t need a GED for that one)
    Community College football player

    It doesn’t matter how stupid the guy was, how high he was, it only matters that if you are a police officer once the situation is safe you stop. You stop punching, kicking, shooting, and beating someone if they no longer cause a threat.

    This award was not a reward for the guy, but a reminder to the police department that there are laws and as we must follow them, so must they.

    If I were on that jury I would have had no problem awarding that guy millions of dollars. The police can’t think they get to do whatever they want to you, because you’re high. That’s the job of people who have a bit more schooling to decide. The police doesn’t get to punish or threaten that’s not their job.

    Also notice the above picture. I think it’s interesting that any time the police uses excessive force the guy always looks like that. They never use excessive force on rich kids, the drunk ones like that party on Sunset.

    I bet Jerry Buss (owner of the Lakers who recently got a DUI) didn’t stop right away and no one shot at him 120 times. Mel Gibson, I’m going to bet he pretty much resisted arrest, no one beat the crap out of him.

    And while he had a record, I’m going to bet even if he hadn’t they would have done the same thing.

    That’s the problem with excessive force, they seem to only do it to a select group of people.

    The police know exactly what they are doing when they do this kind of thing, that’s why you have to find them large amounts of money, since they don’t seem to get being decent.


  5. I was a juror on this case and one thing I can tell you about myself is that I am not dumb.

    I had a hard time believing Mr. Hayes; however, I also had a hard time believing some of the deputies that were involved. Both sides said things that were obviously not true.

    In the end I relied on the evidence and other things that were presented to us in court. As for the “lurching forward.” It did lurch forward at one point, but no deputies were in front of it. One deputy that was about 70 feet away was in front of it for a split second, but then moved out of the way (which by the way is the departments policy). Every deputy that fired at the vehicle was to the victims east, south-west, west and north, and believe me, they were not anywhere near his truck during most of the shooting. I did feel that some deputies were justified in shooting; however, others were not. And yes the victims vehicle did hit the patrol car, but it was moving at a snails pace at this point, no one in front of it, no one immediately behind it, no one even close to it, no one in “immediate danger.” Yet shot were still being fired, at least 6-7 shots fired right as the vehicle was “striking” the police car.

    If that is not excessive I don’t know what is!

    As for a couple of your other points

    Yes he was on drugs, yes he had committed crimes before. But you know what! The cops did not know that. The vehicle he was driving had no warrants and neither did Hayes (even though they did not know it was him driving). The only crime he was convicted of was evading arrest, not assault with a deadly weapon.

    This was a big deal during deliberations. Some people felt that his past should play some role in their decision. In fact, I will so far as to say that some people voted NO because of it. Eventhough that should not have been a consideration in that decision. And why should it be, the Sheriffs did not know who they were shooting at. It could have been anyone.

    I agree that being a law enforcement officer is a tough job. You have to enforce the laws as written and try to keep others and yourself safe at the same time. However, this also applies to the people you are arresting. You can not treat them like dirt, you can not violate someones rights just because they committed a crime. Remember, criminals have rights too, they are also human, they also have the capacity to do better for themselves.

    One last point that alot of other people have made. Maybe not here but in other conversations I have had. Where you live does not matter!!! We all have the same rights, no matter if you are from Malibu, Hollywood, or Compton. Even someone such as Mr. Hayes has the rights.

    If you have any questions as to what went on, please do not assume (dumb people assume!!), feel free to ask me.

  6. I’m not going to say too much since Browne and not_dumb summed it up well: treat ALL people with the same respect. You can’t use a persons past record to justify an injustice. People usually can’t seem to understand how messed up a situation like this is, until they’re the ones in the middle of it. And it’s super easy to get involved in a confusing police situation, just wait your turn, cuz it’s bound to happen.

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