The Long Beach City Council approved the city's payment of more than $3 million to litigants during a closed session meeting Tuesday night, settling two lawsuits against the city stemming from officer-involved shootings in 2014 and 2015.
The council voted unanimously to settle the cases of Lucia Morejon and Estate of Hector Morejon v. City of Long Beach for $1.5 million and Nona Opsitnick and Linda Sterett v. City of Long Beach for $2 million, according to the city attorney’s office.
In April 2014, 36-year-old Jason Conoscenti was fatally shot by authorities after leading Sheriff’s deputies on a slow speed chase from Compton to Long Beach following their confrontation of him at a Target store, due to an alleged theft.
The chase ended at a cul-de-sac near Ocean Boulevard and 14th Place, where Conoscenti remained in his SUV for about 15 minutes before he exited the vehicle with a large stick in hand and fled police down the beach-access stairs. Deputies then shot at him with non-lethal rounds as he fled toward the beach where Long Beach officers were waiting.
His aunts, Nona Opsitnick and Linda Sterett, filed a wrongful death lawsuit a month after the incident.
The mother of 19-year-old Hector Morejon filed a lawsuit against the city after her son was shot and killed by Long Beach officers responding to calls of several people trespassing a vacant apartment in the city’s Cambodia Town neighborhood in May 2015.
Authorities said an officer looking through a broken window saw Morejon “bending his knees, and extending his arm out as if pointing an object which the officer perceived was a gun.” The officer then fired at Morejon, fatally injuring him.
“While this brings legal proceedings to a close, the City recognizes that the loss of any human life has lasting consequences for the family, friends, neighbors, those employees involved, and the City as a whole,” said city public affairs officer Kerry Gerot. “The City of Long Beach and its Police Department remain committed to improving police community relations, and best practices.”
Gerot said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is still conducting an independent investigation of the shootings.