SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — An Anaheim jury Thursday awarded the family of a man killed while in police custody nearly $1.8 million in damages after finding that the officers were largely responsible for the 35-year-old man's death.
"Very excited, I'm happy," Katrina Eisinger, the man's mother, said immediately following the judgment. "It means everything to me that we had to fight so hard, no witnesses, all the odds against him because it was dark, and we won."
According to attorneys, the jury awarded $2,275,000 to the family, but the total will be decreased to about $1.8 million because the panel found that officers were 78% responsible for Christopher Eisinger's death, with Eisinger's responsible for the rest.
On March 2, 2018, officers with the Anaheim Police Department confronted Eisinger while responding to reports of a suspicious person in a residential neighborhood. According to police, Eisinger "violently" resisted arrest.
Lawyers for the family said the arrest, caught on body-worn cameras, showed officers pinning him to the ground face down, making it difficult for him to breathe.
"It's a huge day," Annee Della Donna, an attorney, said. "We now know that weapons the officers use include their knees. They held him down, they pushed their body weight onto him until he died."
But a spokesperson for the city of Anaheim disagreed.
"Our officers responded to a resident's call for help on a burglary in progress," city spokesperson Mike Lyster said. "At all times, our officers acted responsibly in their duty to uphold public safety. At no time did they use force that could be seen as excessive for the challenging situation they faced. Any loss of life is tragic."
Eisinger and Della Donna have called on the Orange County District Attorney's Office to reopen the case and consider criminal charges against the officers.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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