$100 million claim filed in police killing of man with fake gun

LOS ANGELES - A $100 million wrongful death claim was filed against the city Monday by the sister of an actor who was fatally shot in the back by a police officer while holding a fake gun at a Halloween party.

The claim says the city, the Police Department and the two officers present at the shooting are responsible for the killing, although only Officer Tarriel Hopper fired his weapon.

The claim accuses Hopper of gross negligence in the shooting of Anthony Dwain Lee, 39, on Oct. 28.

If the claim is rejected by the city, the family can file a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Lee appeared on TV shows such as ''ER'' and ''NYPD Blue,'' and had a small role in the 1997 Jim Carrey movie ''Liar Liar.''

The document was filed by the actor's sister, Tina Vogt, an employee of the Sacramento Police Department.

''You cannot justify what took place in this case,'' her attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., said at a press conference.

The killing occurred after the two police officers went to the party because of a noise complaint.

According to police, Hopper looked through a rear window of the home and spotted Lee, who was holding a realistic-looking fake gun as part of his costume.

Police Chief Bernard C. Parks has said that Hopper fired at Lee when the actor turned suddenly and pointed the fake gun at him.

The coroner's report concluded that Lee was struck from behind by four bullets. Two in the back caused his death as they tore through vital organs. Another shot hit him in the back of the head.

Cochran said this contradicts the official police account of events, questioning how Lee could have been shot so many times in the back if he was facing the officer.

Parks recently said a police investigation into the shooting is still several months from completion.

Police spokesman Lt. Horace Frank declined to comment on specifics in the claim.

''We would like to reiterate our position, that Officer Hopper's actions were based on a perceived threat to his life,'' Frank said.

Sgt. John Pasquariello said Hopper returned to work at the West Los Angeles station after more than a month on leave for counseling.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment