The family of an Oceanside man who was fatally shot by officers at the end of police pursuit in downtown Los Angeles called the death unjustified on Friday, saying the officers involved should be criminally prosecuted.
Alongside the family of 51-year-old Brian Newt Beaird, who was killed Dec. 13 after a high-speed chase, attorney Dale Galipo announced a $20 million claim that was being filed against the Los Angeles Police Department in the death.
Beaird’s 80-year-old father could barely speak at times as he discussed the claim at a news conference outside LAPD headquarters downtown. He witnessed the pursuit on live television, calling his son and telling him to pull over.
“I just can’t seem to get over this,” Bill Beaird said.
Authorities had said the pursuit of the silver Chevrolet Corvette began in the South Gate area after apparent reckless drunken driving. The Corvette weaved through residential areas, sometimes at high speeds and with its lights off, aerial video showed, ending up in downtown Los Angeles.
More than an hour after the chase began, the Corvette slammed into another car at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street, where Beaird stumbled out of the vehicle with his hands in the air. He was shot first by nonlethal rounds and then, apparently, by bullets fired by Los Angeles Police Department officers, aerial video showed.
Family members disputed allegations that Beaird was drunk, saying he suffered from paranoia, particularly of the police.
“I can only imagine how terrified and alone he was, the last moments of his life,” brother John Beaird said. “Even though his decisions were bad, the decisions of those offers pale in comparison to what my brother did.”
Brian Beaird served in the U.S. National Guard and was discharged in 1988 after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor, his father said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Beaird described his son as a “disabled veteran,” and Galipo said his paranoia had developed after the brain surgery, according to The Times.
“He was simply afraid and paranoid of the police, even though he has never been convicted of any felonies,” Galipo said, the newspaper reported. “And that paranoia of the police is one of the reasons why he didn’t pull over.”
On Thursday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced that the three officers involved in the shooting were placed on extended leave pending an internal investigation into the shooting death. In a statement, Beck said that after a preliminary briefing he was “very concerned about the circumstances that led up to and resulted in” the shooting.
One of the two occupants of the car struck by Beaird’s Corvette was seriously injured, Beck noted.
Galipo urged the chief to disciple the officers.
“We are hoping that there is some…example set by Chief Beck…to tell his officers we do not want this type of senseless shooting,” Galipo said.
Family members said officers should be criminally prosecuted in addition to the Police Department facing the civil claim.
KTLA’s Kennedy Ryan and Sara Welch contributed to this story.