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Family of local doctor killed in hit-and-run crash sues city of LA

Family of local doctor killed in hit-and-run crash sues city of LA
Family of local doctor killed in hit-and-run crash sues city of LA 02:54

The Arts District is always full of people. It's a bustling part of downtown Los Angeles, packed with restaurants and lofts. But on a half-mile stretch of Sante Fe Avenue, people want change.

"I had to literally check for cars and bolt across," said Emily Locke. "I've seen multiple people do it and it doesn't feel good."

Locke, like many pedestrians, struggles to get around, as the east side of the road has no sidewalk, with parallel parking and speeding cars, and most people walk in the bike path. 

"It is just alarming in this area because there's so much pedestrian traffic," Locke said. "There's just not enough lights."

It's the same stretch of pavement that is now the center of a lawsuit filed against the city following the death of Dr. Larry Brooks. 

Anna Marie Piersimoni is Brooks's widow. 

"Today would have been our wedding anniversary," she said. "It would have been 37 years."

Piersimoni said her husband went out for a walk in May of 2020 and never came home. 

"I heard pounding — pounding at the door," she said. "It was police, two of them. They had his glasses, his wallet, this ring — our wedding ring. He was gone in 10 minutes."

Dr. Larry Brooks was killed by a hit-and-run driver in May 2020.  Brooks Family

Brooks and Piersimoni moved to the Arts District in 2014 when they became empty-nesters. 

On the day Brooks went for his final walk, a car came speeding down Santa Fe Avenue, lost control and slammed into him. 

"He wasn't breaking any rules," said Robert Glassman, the attorney representing Piersimoni and her family. "He was out going for a peaceful walk."

Glassman said the lawsuit seeks to hold the city accountable and ensure the streets are kept safe for pedestrians.

"One very important piece of evidence in cases like this is notice," said Glassman. "Was the city on notice of complaints of a dangerous condition on the roadway?" 

According to the lawsuit, there were 18 accidents on the same stretch of road on Santa Fe Avenue in the nine years before Brooks died. It states the city was warned multiple times of the danger not only from neighbors but city employees. 

"One community member said, 'What has to happen? Does somebody have to die?'" said Piersimoni. "Apparently so, and it was my husband."

A few weeks ago crosswalk and light were installed. Another is slated for construction, but this family says that's not enough to make up for what was taken. 

"Really, I had to sacrifice my husband for a traffic light to be put in five years later?" said Piersimoni. "It's wrong. It's just wrong."

A hearing is scheduled for Friday on this lawsuit against the city. The trial is set for the spring. 

The man driving the vehicle who struck Brooks was sentenced to six months in jail for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He was released after six weeks.

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