Mother of Young Man Killed in WeHo Sheriff’s Deputy Crash Files a Lawsuit

Sheriff's Department patrol car crashed in front of MTA depot on Santa Monica Boulevard. (Photo by Jon Viscott)
Sheriff’s Department patrol car crashed in front of MTA depot on Santa Monica Boulevard on Oct. 15, 2015. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

The mother of a pedestrian killed in a crash involving a sheriff’s patrol car and another vehicle in West Hollywood in 2015 is suing the county and the other driver on claims of wrongful death and
negligence.

Patricia Minero, the mother of 27-year-old Jonathan Peña of Hollywood, is seeking unspecified damages on allegations of wrongful death and negligence.

Her lawsuit, filed Friday, names as defendants Los Angeles County and Viridiana Perez, who was behind the wheel of a car involved in a collision with the patrol vehicle shortly before Peña was hit. A sheriff’s department representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.

The crash occurred near the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards about 11:05 p.m. last Oct. 15. Peña, a desk clerk at West Hollywood’s Holloway Motel, died at a hospital. The two deputies in the patrol car were hospitalized in serious condition, as was another pedestrian, 40-year-old USC cardiologist Michael Fong, the LASD reported previously. Deputy Matt Ahrari was driving the patrol car that hit Peña and Fong. Also in that car was deputy Robert Sandoval.

Jonathan Peña
Jonathan Peña

The deputies were responding to a report of a felony spousal assault. As their patrol vehicle — with lights and sirens activated — was headed east on Santa Monica, it clipped the rear of another vehicle, ran over the curb and struck the pedestrians, according to the sheriff’s department.

However, the lawsuit alleges the deputy driving the patrol car lost control while trying to pass Perez’s car. The patrol car hit a curb and went onto the sidewalk, where Peña and the other pedestrian were struck, the lawsuit
states.

The suit alleges both the deputy and Perez were driving negligently. The complaint also maintains the sheriff’s department negligently hired, trained and supervised Deputy Ahrari, who is identified by name in the suit but not listed as a defendant.

Shortly after the crash the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services to West Hollywood under a $19 million annual contract, asked the California Highway Patrol to investigate the matter and determine whether the local sheriff’s deputies were at fault. WEHOville has made requests over many months for results of the investigation, to no avail. Now that a civil lawsuit has been filed, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is likely to further block release of results of the investigation, which it also did in the killing of one young man and serious injury to another by three local deputies in a shooting in April 2014 on Palm Avenue. The Sheriff’s Department eventually released a report on that incident, but blacked out all relevant information, rendering its report useless.

The State of California has the most restrictive laws in the country barring public access to law enforcement disciplinary records and civilian complaints. Such restrictions are strongly supported by police officer unions, whose endorsement is sought by local and state politicians up for re-election.

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fine7760
2 years ago

Not only have I seen other vehicles fail to pull to the right, I have seen them steering right into the path of on coming emergency vehicles. While some attack the LASD they forget there were two incidents in that building on Palm Ave. one of which resulted in the death of the victim at the hands of his so called lover. Yes, multiple units respond. This is in part because the LASD maintains one man units as opposed to two man units in Los Angeles. And is some cases the LASD arrive prior to the Fire Department for medical… Read more »

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2 years ago

It’s sad to see someone like Johnathan go. I miss my brother.

Mitchell Mitch
3 years ago

It’s immaterial why the car that the sheriff he didn’t pull over and follow the rules what’s material is that the officer made an unsafe maneuver striking the vehicle at an accelerated rate of speed losing control of his squad car and ended up hitting pedestrians on a sidewalk. The sheriff who was driving the car could have simply stayed behind the car that he could not get around until the car moved over those few seconds would have most likely been the difference between life and death. Well there’s no excuse for not moving to the right as mandated… Read more »

Dark Angel
Dark Angel
3 years ago

@ Robert Munoz, I strongly recommand you do a ride along with both Weho Sheriff and Fire department! You will get first hand experience of what and how they deal with people who do not follow their instructions!!!

Robert Muniz
3 years ago

@ Steve Martin, that’s because they’re board most of the time and, rather than doing what they should be doing, rush to what ever incident gets called in…

Dark angel
Dark angel
3 years ago

My question is why did the car didnt pull to the right when the lights of police car was on? Isnt that what we were supposd to do?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 years ago

While everyone who is a victim of a crime wants an immediate response time, that is not an excuse for reckless driving. I wonder how many Sheriff’s vehicles responded to reported domestic violence incident. I often notice that hordes of Sheriff’s vehicles swarm with lights and sirens blasting to deal with a passed out homeless person. Sometimes it seems there is a lot of over reaction by the Department locally that seem to have tragic results.

Randy
Randy
3 years ago

Thank you WEHOville, for continuing to aggressively uncover the truth about matters concerning our local police department. It is ridiculous that the public is kept in the dark over so much.

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