Los Angeles County has agreed to pay $1.49 million to the family of an unarmed, disabled Compton man who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in a tragic case of mistaken identity last year, officials said.
The settlement, approved Tuesday by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, will be paid to the father of 27-year-old Donnell Thompson Jr., according to Brian Dunn, an attorney with the Cochran Firm who is representing the family.
Thompson came into contact with a group of sheriff’s deputies in Compton last July as they hunted for Robert Alexander, a 26-year-old carjacking suspect who had opened fire on deputies after a pursuit in Compton.
Alexander had a lengthy criminal history, but Thompson was described by relatives as a sweet, soft-spoken man who was attending classes for people with mental disabilities at El Camino College.
After shooting at deputies twice, Alexander stormed into a home on Slater Street at gunpoint, threatened to kill the occupants and hid in the bedroom of an elderly woman, authorities said. He was arrested a short time later.
Authorities, however, were unable to immediately identify Alexander as the carjacking suspect.
At about the same time, a resident on West Stockwell Street called authorities to report a man lying in his front yard. It was Thompson.
Another group of deputies, unaware of Alexander’s arrest, moved in, believing they had found the carjacking suspect who had opened fire, authorities said last year.
Thompson did not respond to commands and did not move when deputies set off flash-bang explosives nearby, authorities said last year. Eventually, he was struck by foam bullets and took off running toward an armored vehicle.
Deputies said Thompson had his hand near his waistband while he was running. A SWAT team member in the turret of an armored vehicle shot him twice with an M4 rifle, authorities said. Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene.