Long Beach man who sued city over excessive force found shot to death

A Long Beach man who previously sued the city over alleged excessive force and won a settlement was found shot to death Wednesday night.

Ray Cash, 53, was found on the sidewalk at about 11:50 p.m. in the 1600 block of Pacific Avenue with multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

“While the motive remains under investigation, the shooting is being investigated as gang-related,” LBPD said in a statement. Long Beach police define “gang-related” crime as any crime “committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang.”

In his federal lawsuit, Cash said LBPD officer Salvador Alatorre approached him in late January 2018 after Cash’s wife had called police to their home. Cash said the officer drew his gun even after his wife explained the couple had been arguing but Cash hadn’t been physical with her.

Unprompted, Cash tried to give officers his ID, he said, but officers slammed him to the ground and Alatorre began hitting Cash with a Maglight flashlight “over and over again with all of his strength.”

By the end of the beating, Cash had to be carried to a squad car because he could no longer stand, he alleged in the lawsuit.

Cash was arrested but never charged, according to the lawsuit. Jail records show he was held for two days before being released on bond.

The Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office both declined to file any charges against Cash.

Cash and his wife sought more than $8 million in damages, but settled for an unspecified figure in June 2020.

In May 2019 the LBPD suspended Alatorre for 120 days over the beating of Cash, according to LBPD records. Six months later, the department dismissed him entirely, following a further complaint that Alatorre had hit Jose Encinas, 46, in the head with a Maglite flashlight following a traffic stop.

Prior to the complaints from Cash and Encinas, the city paid out nearly $2.5 million in court cases involving Alatorre.

In 2014, Long Beach agreed to pay $380,000 after a jury found Alatorre used excessive force on a man who officers beat and Tasered after Alatorre confronted him about playing music too loudly. The jury also found two other officers had either wrongly arrested or battered the man, according to court documents.

In 2016, Long Beach paid $2 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit against Alatorre and another officer for shooting 36-year-old Jason Conoscenti as he fled down a flight of stairs at the beach after a car chase with authorities in April 2014.

The LBPD is urging anyone with information regarding Cash’s shooting to contact Homicide Detectives Sean Magee or JC Ryes at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone, or by visiting www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

Breaking News Editor Jeremiah Dobruck contributed to this story.

LBPD officer with history of excessive force beat 2 men with flashlight, lawsuit says

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.