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Claim for Wrongful Death against Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Claim for Wrongful Death against Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Family of slain El Monte cop files claim against D.A. Gascón, probation department

The family of David Zavala, who was gunned down in September 2007 as he tried to break into the South El Monte home of his ex-girlfriend (for a second time), filed a claim for wrongful death against Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Christopher Bissonette and Deputy DA Eric Gonzalez of the South El Monte district attorney’s office.

Zavala’s family’s filing said Gonzalez and Bissonette were present at the home when Zavala returned, and Bissonette, who is also in the El Monte Police Department, fatally shot Zavala. Zavala died days later in a hospital from multiple gunshot wounds.

“Mr. Zavala’s family is grieving over his death while awaiting the results of medical examinations by the City of El Monte Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” the claim said.

The claim names the county, Gonzalez and Bissonette as co-defendants, adding that the county was responsible because Bissonette was supervising Gonzalez when Zavala was shot.

The County of Los Angeles has repeatedly said it did not fire or have a direct role in the shooting.

“We believe that Captain Bissonette acted appropriately, and that the decision as to whether to fire him and as to whether to take measures to prevent future violence rests with the LA County Superior Court,” said Senior Assistant County Counsel David Korniss.

The filing sought $5 million in damages for emotional distress and loss of society, companionship, guidance and affection, as well as attorney fees.

Earlier this year, Zavala’s widow, Lori Zavala and their son Jake, were at the center of a dispute with the Los Angeles County prosecutor’s office. After police officers investigating Zavala’s girlfriend’s death were accused of tampering with evidence, the judge assigned to the case recused herself.

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