Family of slain TSA agent files $25M claim
Claim alleges the city "failed to properly hire, supervise, train, staff, and plan for the protection and safety of individuals and personnel"
By Tami Abdollah
LOS ANGELES — The widow and two children of a security screener killed in an attack at Los Angeles International Airport last year have filed a $25 million claim against the city of Los Angeles.
AlderLaw P.C. said Thursday the claim was filed on behalf of the family of Transportation Security Administration Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was killed Nov. 1 by a gunman that authorities say targeted TSA officers. Three other people were injured.
The claim filed on April 16 alleges the city, including Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX and its airport police, "failed to properly hire, supervise, train, staff, and plan for the protection and safety of individuals and personnel" at the airport and delayed medical care to Hernandez.
A claim can be a precursor to a lawsuit if it is rejected.
"The city of Los Angeles employees failed in carrying out their duties, creating a very dangerous lapse in security, which was a factor causing Mr. Hernandez to be fatally shot and killed," attorney Michael Alder said in a statement. "Even more horrific, is that the city's employees delayed medical care to Mr. Hernandez."
City attorney's office spokesman Frank Mateljan said he doesn't know if officials have seen the claim and the office is not commenting.
The wrongful death claim was filed on behalf of widow Ana Machuca, her 15-year-old son Luis Hernandez and 11-year-old daughter Stephanie Hernandez.
The claim said wrongful acts and omissions by city employees caused the family to lose the support, love, affection and companionship of the husband and father.
A review of the emergency response by the Los Angeles World Airports found that lapses in communication and coordination led to delays in responding to the gunman and providing aid to victims.
The Associated Press has reported that Hernandez did not receive medical aid until 33 minutes after he was shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead after surgeons worked for an hour at a hospital. A later coroner's media release said he was likely dead within two to five minutes after the shooting.
Trauma surgeon Dr. David Plurad is named as a witness in the claim as is Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles Fire Department and coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter.
The airport's report didn't assign responsibility to any person and it did not mention an earlier AP report that found the two armed airport police officers assigned to Terminal 3 had left for breaks and were not inside the terminal when the shooting started. One had left for the bathroom in the next terminal over, and the other was headed to lunch.
The officers didn't inform dispatchers as required by department policy. And because they were out of position, an airline contractor alerted airport police dispatch about the attack from his cellphone. The terminal was left without any armed officer for nearly 3.5 minutes as the gunman advanced with a high-powered rifle targeting TSA officers.
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