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Jury Awards Man Shot by Riverside County Deputy $7.8 Million

Riverside County Sheriff's officials released this photo of William Howard in July 2010, as they sought the public's help in finding him for his suspected role in an April 2010 armed robbery.
Riverside County Sheriff's officials released this photo of William Howard in July 2010, as they sought the public's help in finding him for his suspected role in an April 2010 armed robbery.
Three years after he was shot by a sheriff's deputy in Riverside County, a convicted robber has won a $7.8 million judgement against the county.

An anonymous federal jury returned the verdict in favor of William Howard on Wednesday in United States District Court in Riverside, according to the Los Angeles Times.  It took them about three hours to decide.

Howard, who was shot in the face as he was hiding from deputies in 2011, also suffered a stroke and arterial damage because of the shooting and is still in a wheelchair as he's partially paralyzed, his lawyers told the Press Enterprise.

His attorneys told the newspaper that Howard was unarmed when he was shot by Deputy Armando Munoz.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a statement sent to Patch Wednesday they are disappointed with the verdict, and stand by the deputy's actions.

"Deputy Munoz, an eight-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, remains employed as a deputy sheriff," the statement said.  "As to the verdict, we are obviously very disappointed with the verdict.  Deputy Munoz was required to make a split second decision in the defense of his life and the department is in support of his decision and actions."

When he was shot, Howard was a suspect in a May 2010 armed robbery that happened in Indian Wells, according to incident reports from the sheriff's department. 

At the time he was spotted in 2011 in Cathedral City, he was described as a wanted felon and was considered armed and dangerous, reports indicate.

"Officers had been searching for this 27-year-old male because he had an outstanding felon warrant for an armed robbery committed in 2010 in the city of Indian Wells," Corporal Courtney Donowho reported following the April 7, 2011 officer involved shooting.  "Upon arrival, the officers located the suspect and a foot pursuit ensued when they were attempting to arrest him.  The officers lost sight of the suspect and began searching the area on foot after establishing a perimeter.  The suspect lunged at one officer from a hiding place located in a utility room near an apartment complex.  He was subsequently shot and injured by the officer."

Howard's attorneys claimed misconduct against the county and agency.

"Verdicts like this give hope to victims of police misconduct," Howard's attorney, Dale Galipo told the LA Times following the ruling. "I think it sends a message to police officers that they will be held accountable if they use excessive force."

The Press Enterprise reports that Howard pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to state prison.

Steven Narbonne June 12, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Howard's attorneys must be so proud of themselves. Hey, can this thug's victims sue him now for mental anguish and reimbursement of the goods and money he stole?
Marsha Winner June 12, 2014 at 02:00 PM
This is an outrage!!!!! I wonder how the jurist would feel is they were police and jumped by an individual known to be an armed felony. Would they just turn and say "now now dont do that" or would they defend thenselves anyway they could. STUPID . The policeman felt threated. Reported as an armed felone jumps a cop during a chase and gets 7.8 million ARE YOU ALL NUTS SHAME ON OUR SYSTEM. IT FAILED
april ann June 13, 2014 at 03:51 AM
How is the Officer "held accountable" when it's my tax dollars that are paying for this lawsuit, and the monetary reward that this CRIMINAL will receive?! Such BS!
Karla June 13, 2014 at 09:16 AM
This is a disgusting example of our failed judicial system.

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