Leon Sanchez, 35, was unclear what was happening when the officers came into his home on Jan. 3, his family said, and shot him in his living room.
His last words were in Spanish, telling the officers, “no les voy a dejar que me roben” which translates to “I am not going to allow you to rob me,” according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The complaint names the two LAPD officers who shot him — Diego Bracamontes and Christopher Guerrero — along with the city of Los Angeles as defendants. The LAPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit.
At the time of the shooting, the LAPD’s social media account claimed officers were responding to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon. Officers said they encountered a man, later identified as Leon Sanchez, holding a “sharp metal object about a foot in length.”
The officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the item and when he stepped toward the officers they shot him, the LAPD said at the time.
Leon Sanchez’s family claims he was holding a piece of a scooter when he was shot just before 6 p.m.
Police claimed Leon Sanchez assaulted someone near his home in the 2700 block of South Central Avenue several hours before the shooting, according to the complaint, but he was inside his home when police arrived. When officers approached his home, they found Leon Sanchez standing on a second-story porch and spoke with him for 10 minutes from the ground below.
The officers grew impatient and entered the home through an open back door, his family said. They found Leon Sanchez standing in his living room and then shot him five seconds after the officers approached the back door, the complaint said.
Leon Sanchez was shot without being given any warnings and the only commands officers issued were in English, even though they understood that Leon Sanchez only spoke Spanish, according to his family. His brother, Emmanuel Leon Sanchez, was also in the living room and witnessed police shoot his brother.
After he was shot, Sanchez was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.
The lawsuit was filed by Los Angeles-based attorneys Christian Contreras and Humberto Guizar on behalf of Leon Sanchez’s family including his brother and daughter, Wendy Leon Madero.