ADELANTO-(VVNG.com): Keivon Anthony Young was awarded $110,000 plus an undisclosed amount in punitive damages after being shot by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies in 2014.
Following a 2015 investigation, the District Attorney’s office found that based on all evidence available to them, the shooting was considered justifiable self-defense.
However, on Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Riverside, a jury of 8 returned a verdict finding deputies Nicholas Tollefson and Justin Musella in violation of using excessive and unreasonable force and citing negligence on their behalf.
After the jurors carefully reviewed the case they went on to state that the deputies acted “malicious, oppressive or in reckless disregard” for Young’s rights.
Young’s mistaken identity case stemmed from a 2o14 incident when San Bernardino County conducted surveillance of a home located at 11648 La Paz Street while searching for murder suspect, Robert Pope.
Pope was wanted for the January 28, 2014 murder of Ernie Sanders and the attempted murder of Summer Mattes.
Deputies driving unmarked vehicles and wearing undercover clothing began the surveillance at about 9:00 p.m. when they noticed Young acting with suspicious behavior.
According to detectives, Young was sneaking through yards and appeared to have an object in his hand which was wrapped in a cloth. He then placed the object in his waistband.
A Sergeant and deputy both had belt recorders activated which captured their conversations on tape.
Deputies grew concerned with Young’s behavior as he inched closer to a garage that had a group of people who were possible targets for retaliation following the murder of Ernie Sanders.
As the audio was still rolling, deputies made contact with Young believing that he may have had a weapon.
Along with the sound of footsteps, deputies were heard shouting “Sheriff’s Department” in an attempt to identify themselves.
Per witnesses accounts, 4-8 gun shots were heard. Those shots hit Young several times in his leg and pelvis area. He was then taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for his injuries.
Crime scene specialists conducted an investigation on the morning of January 30th at approximately 2:45 a.m.
Through investigation, two fixed-blade knives (8-9 inches in length) were located along with several shell casings from the deputies’ firearms.
Young was interviewed at the hospital and advised authorities he was visiting friends around 8:30 p.m. when a car pulled up with a group of black males. He then said he feared of being shot by the group of men and grabbed two butcher knives from the kitchen of the house he was visiting and proceeded out a back door.
Young said he was not able describe the vehicle or the men citing the fact that he was high on Marijuana and it was dark outside.
In a recorded statement, Young told detectives that he jumped the fence into the yard of a neighboring home while listening for yelling or any other signs of the black men still being in the area.
He then said he noticed people running behind him with flashlights and guns and feared it was the unknown black males until he heard someone say “Sheriffs.”
He said he attempted to get on the ground and toss the knives, but was shot before being able to do so.
Young declared he did not assault anyone and did not know why he was shot, but did admit to his behavior appearing somewhat suspicious.
February of 2014 Young was charged with two felony counts of resisting an executive officer and one count of possession of a concealed dirk or dagger.
Four months later in June he pleaded guilty to possession of a concealed dirk or dagger and a lesser charge of misdemeanor resisting or obstructing a peace officer. He was sentenced to 292 days in county jail and placed on three years probation. Two of those charges have since been dismissed.
Meanwhile, the suspect Robert Pope was arrested on February 12, 2014, and is currently in custody while awaiting trial which is scheduled for February 8, 2017.