We live in a nation increasingly divided on racial, ethnic, and political lines. Much of the leading media of our day focuses on the agendas that drive these divisions, but little is said about the phenomena itself, or the underlying social justice issues.
Brian Dunn, a leading Civil Rights attorney and the managing partner of The Cochran Firm in California, explores these issues each week with Producer Jim Oates, and various other guests from the legal and business communities. Brian is one of the most successful civil plaintiff attorneys in California in the field of police misconduct and use of deadly force by police. A Nation Divided focuses not only on the reality of the division between law enforcement and the public, but on the deeper divisions in our society. Only on 790 KABC Radio.
"A Nation Divided" invited former police officer and current drug activist, Barry Cooper to the show. Mr. Cooper is a world-famous drug expert and humanitarian who was once one of the nation’s top drug-enforcement police officers. He experienced a shift in consciousness after experimenting with psychedelics, which led to his transformation. For over 12 years, Barry has worked as an activist, drug expert witness, drug consultant, life coach and psychedelic healer.
Today on A Nation Divided Radio we speak with Martin Ludlow about music, life, and how his upbringing made him into who he is today. In 1998, Ludlow became chief of staff to state Assembly Member Antonio Villaraigosa, and in 2001 he was named political director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor under the executive secretary, Miguel Contreras. In 2002 he became a member of the staff of Assembly member Herb Wesson.
On this episode we discuss the foreign topic of torture of prisoners here in America on our soil. Flint Taylor is a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for 45 years. Among the landmark cases that Mr. Taylor has litigated are the Fred Hampton Black Panther case; the Greensboro, North Carolina case against the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis; the Ford Heights Four case in which four innocent men received a record $36 million settlement for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
On this episode, special guest Megan Gyongyos talks about her experience in representing and defending her client's who have been involved in police shootings. Megan is someone who doesn't just talk about the cases but is working on these cases everyday.
Megan Gyongyos is an associate attorney with The Cochran Firm — California. Her primary practice area is civil litigation, with an emphasis on civil rights, police misconduct, wrongful death and personal injury cases. Megan graduated summa cum laude from Southwestern Law School, where Megan served as lead articles editor for the Southwestern Law Review.
On June 6, 2019, two Los Angeles County deputies fired nearly three dozen rounds into a white Kia Forte as its driver reversed through an apartment complex parking lot in Willowbrook. While the passenger of the sedan, Daimeon Leffall, was not hit by the gunfire, the deputies killed the driver, Ryan Twyman, a 24-year-old father of three. Twyman and Leffall were both unarmed.
This week, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a $3.9 million settlement to Twyman’s parents and children, and to Leffall. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called the “unusually large” settlement “no substitute for justice.”
“Beyond the wrongful death of Mr. Twyman and the costly settlement that is attached to it, a lasting consequence of this incident is the painful trauma and grief that it causes his family, his friends, and the community at large,” said Ridley-Thomas.
An” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen> LASD-narrated video of the shooting released on June 20, 2019, showed the two Century Station deputies pull into the parking lot, get out of their patrol car, and walk up behind Twyman’s parked car with their guns drawn. At this point, the sheriff’s department says that the deputies, then on either side of the vehicle, issued verbal commands for Twyman and Leffall to roll down the vehicle’s windows.
The officer on the passenger side “was unsure if the occupants inside the decedent’s vehicle heard the commands due to the window’s being rolled up,” according to LA County Counsel’s summary of the shooting.
That deputy opened the unlocked back passenger door of the car.
The video shows about 12 or 13 seconds of time between the deputies exiting their patrol car and the first deputy opening the door of the Kia, gun pointed inside.
Several seconds later, Twyman put the car in reverse, and backed it into the middle of the parking lot. The car’s open back door appeared to pull the deputy along.
The department’s incident video narrator said that the deputy was trying to maintain his balance and not get “knocked down and run over” when he and his partner began firing into the car. The deputy — who remained standing throughout — and his partner continued to fire, even after the first officer had gotten out of the way of the car, which continued to slowly reverse until it hit a carport support beam. At this point, the second deputy retrieved a rifle from the trunk of the patrol car and both deputies appeared to fire more rounds at Twyman and Leffall in the Kia.
According to the LASD, Twyman was on probation and was under investigation for possessing guns with a felony on his record. The department had been looking for Twyman to arrest him on the weapons charge after a search of the young man’s house turned up firearms. Twyman wasn’t home at the time of the search.
“At no time during the course of these events” did Twyman or Leffall “pose any reasonable or credible threat of violence” to the deputies, “nor did they do anything to justify the force used against them.” according to the complaint filed by the family’s lawyer, Brian Dunn, of the Cochran Firm California. That force, the complaint alleged, was not only deadly, but also “excessive, unnecessary, and unlawful,” and in violation of the LASD’s policy against shooting into vehicles.
The Twyman family’s legal team also accused the deputies of “deliberate indifference,” by failing to render medical aid to the dying man, writing that “after a significant and appreciable period of time had passed following the shooting, Ryan Twyman died as a direct and proximate result of the gunshot wounds inflicted upon his person” by the defendants.
Twyman’s loved ones were also among a handful of grieving families who, speaking before the board of supervisors last year, reported taunting and intimidation from East LA and Century Station deputies at funerals and public memorials honoring people killed by members of the LASD.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the shooting and settlement pointed to the critical need for the “robust” and “legally mandated” oversight of the Office of the Inspector General to address a “lack of training and accountability,” and “failures of leadership” within the sheriff’s department.
(During this same Tuesday meeting, the supervisors voted 3-2 to explore ways they might be able to remove from office voter-elected LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, with whom they and Inspector General Max Huntsman have an ongoing feud regarding oversight and accountability, the budget, and the sheriff’s efforts to keep Caren Carl Mandoyan on staff.)
The “careless” tragedy of Twyman’s killing, Ridley-Thomas said, also “underscores the need” for the board of supervisors to do all it can to build up violence prevention efforts and other trauma-informed programs “that help families and communities heal from grief and trauma.”