Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
The City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $3.57 million to settle six lawsuits alleging that Los Angeles police officers violated the civil rights of residents, including a man who was wrongly arrested and convicted for the murder of three women.
David Allen Jones spent 11 years in prison before he was released in 2004, after the Los Angeles Police Department determined that DNA evidence linked another man to the deaths of 12 women -- many of whom were prostitutes or homeless -- including two that Jones had been convicted of killing.
The council agreed to pay $720,000 to Jones, with President Eric Garcetti saying that case and the others represented past problems with the LAPD.
"We have consistently voted for these settlements to make sure that justice is served and we turn a new page at the LAPD to win the public trust," Garcetti said after the vote.
Glen E. Tucker, the attorney for Jones, declined to discuss specifics of the settlement but said it was a fair agreement.
"The Jones family is satisfied with the settlement. It was a long time coming," Tucker said.
Although LAPD detectives came under criticism for arresting Jones, Tucker credited the department's Cold Case Unit with "getting the ball rolling that got Jones out" of prison.
Jones was convicted in 1995 of killing Tammie Christmas, Mary Edwards and Debra Williams and raping a fourth woman.
He was arrested after a much-criticized investigation into the possibility that a serial killer was involved in the deaths of more than a dozen women in South Los Angeles.
Jones was held even though there were no witnesses, no clues leading to Jones and blood evidence argued against his involvement.
A part-time janitor who one psychiatrist described as having the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, Jones was in jail at the time, charged with the attempted rape of a prostitute near the school where three bodies had been found.
He waived his right to a lawyer and was interrogated by police three times. He denied killing anyone, but admitted under the prodding of detectives to having sex and smoking crack cocaine with the victims at the places where their bodies were found.
Despite evidence that hair, blood and semen samples collected at the scenes did not come from Jones, he was convicted.
Authorities have since charged Chester D. Turner with killing two of the women. Turner has pleaded not guilty.
The council also voted 9 to 1 to pay $2.85 million to settle five federal civil rights suits filed by attorney Stephen Yagman on behalf of clients, including two men who said they were framed by officers involved in the Rampart Division police corruption scandal.
David Diaz alleged that Rampart officers fabricated evidence and conspired to obtain a false conviction against him for assault with a deadly weapon.
A settlement check was also approved for Louie Guerrero, who alleged he was wrongfully arrested by Rampart officers in 1997.
Councilman Greig Smith voted against the Diaz settlement. "I just thought it was inappropriate for us to settle," Smith said. "I think we should have continued to fight it. I think we would have won at the higher courts."
The council also settled a lawsuit by the family of Daniel Soly, who was fatally shot by the LAPD's Special Investigations Section. The unit, which often puts suspected robbers under surveillance, has been sued for watching as robberies occurred before stepping in and killing the suspects.
The lawsuit alleged that unit members violated Soly's rights when he was killed in 1995 after he and a partner robbed a Newbury Park liquor store.
Two cases brought by Yagman involving lawsuits against the department under the tenure of former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates also were settled.
Council to settle 6 LAPD lawsuits