Paragraph 5 eads: "Reed had been taking medication for pain and depression, and had also been drinking, which caused aberrant behavior, Paz said."
Shooting death lawsuit settled
Ojai man was killed by deputy
By Charles Levin, clevin@VenturaCountyStar.com
December 15, 2005
Ventura County has paid $950,000 to settle a lawsuit over the shooting death of an Ojai area man killed by a sheriff's deputy last year.
Piarre Reed, 43, was killed by a SWAT team deputy on Oct. 24, 2004, after a standoff outside his home in the 2200 block of Maricopa Highway in Meiners Oaks. The district attorney's office later ruled that the killing was justified.
Attorneys for both sides Wednesday called the settlement fair.
"It was not as much as what we thought the case was worth," said Samuel Paz, who represented Reed's parents and children in a federal suit charging that police violated Reed's civil rights.
Oxnard attorney Alan Wisotsky, who represented the county, said the government agreed to settle because losing a case in a jury trial would have cost taxpayers much more.
Reed had been taking medication for pain and depression, and had also been drinking, which caused aberrant behavior, Paz said.
Deputies responded to complaints at Reed's house the evening of Oct. 23 and morning of Oct. 24 after a verbal altercation with a neighbor. After a second visit to the house, deputies tried to negotiate with Reed but failed and called in a SWAT team.
Deputies saw Reed firing a gun from the second-floor balcony of his home. He went back inside, then started to walk back out the balcony door when Deputy Christopher Payton, believing that Reed was armed, shot him.
However, Reed was not holding a firearm when he was shot. An initial press release by the Sheriff's Department said "Deputies were verbally threatened and fired upon by Reed."
Paz said Reed's family was angered by the press release.
"They vilified Mr. Reed and made him look like a terrible person," Paz said.
Wisotsky sees it differently. "That weapon was clearly fired on more than one occasion, once clearly in the presence of deputies," he said, adding that Reed moved in and out of the house several times, sometimes with a gun.
"His motions and movements are such that this officer reasonably believes he was still armed," Wisotsky said.
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors authorized the settlement at its July 19 meeting, County Counsel Noel Klebaum said Wednesday. News of the settlement surfaced earlier that day when Paz announced that the family had received a check from the county.
Under the state's open meeting law, Klebaum said, the board was not required to disclose the settlement until it was concluded. In this case, that meant when defense attorneys agreed to accept the county's offer, he said.