Cal State student awarded $210K in LAPD excessive force case

LOS ANGELES -- A college student was awarded $210,000 in damages Thursday in a lawsuit accusing a Los Angeles Police Department officer of excessive force.

A federal jury found that Officer Mario Cardona acted with malice when taking Cal State Los Angeles student Daniel Garza into custody. Garza had broken up with Cardona's stepdaughter before the incident.

"Officer Cardona attacked and tortured me for over 20 minutes," said Garza.

Video of the incident showed Cardona twisting Garza's wrist, who was already in handcuffs and was not fighting back. The officer claimed he thought the student was kidnapping his stepdaughter.

"I am very pleased that the truth finally came out," said Garza.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office agreed with the student's claims of excessive force. However, they claimed the city of Los Angeles was not responsible for the incident because Cardona was not on duty at the time. Garza's lawyers disputed that claim.

"Within an hour or so of the incident, three of his superiors from LAPD showed up on scene and all three of them placed Mr. Cardona on duty that day. And indeed he was paid by the LAPD for the duration of the incident," said Kaveh Navab, one of Garza's attorneys.

The LAPD deemed Cardona's behavior that day as legal and proper. Cardona has been promoted since the incident occurred.

"Chief Beck sent out a letter from his office saying we know this officer inflicted pain on you while you were handcuffed, while you were helpless. But we find it to be lawful, justified and proper," said James DeSimone, another one of Garza's attorneys.

A future trial will take place to decide if the city or Cardona alone is liable for his actions.
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