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Kristy Beets et al v. County of Los Angeles et al

November 9, 2011

KRISTY BEETS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. KC 57667) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Dan T. Oki, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Flier, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Reversed.

Heck v. Humphrey (1994) 512 U.S. 477, 486-487 (Heck) holds that when a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in a suit under title 42 of the United States Code section 1983 (section 1983) would necessarily imply the invalidity of the plaintiff's underlying conviction or sentence, the complaint must be dismissed, unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that his conviction or sentence has been invalidated. In Yount v. City of Sacramento (2008) 43 Cal.4th 885, 902 (Yount), our Supreme Court held that the same principle applies to analogous state tort suits.

In this case, appellants Kristy Beets and Glenn Allen Rose are the parents of Glenn Patrick Rose (Rose), who was killed during an incident with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol. Appellants, in their individual capacities and also as successors in interest to Rose, brought this wrongful death action against respondents Los Angeles County and Sheriff's Deputy Steven Winter. They allege that Deputy Winter's use of deadly force against Rose was unreasonable. While Rose did not survive, another participant in the incident, Sarah Morales, survived. Morales was tried and convicted of the assault of Deputy Winter in the underlying incident.

Respondents demurred to the first amended complaint pursuant to Heck and Yount, arguing that Morales's conviction barred appellants' wrongful death claims. The trial court sustained respondents' demurrer and entered judgment for respondents. We reverse.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

1. The Circumstances of Rose's Death

In the early morning hours of May 13, 2008, Rose allegedly stole a white Honda. A pursuit with police officers ensued. The white Honda became disabled during the pursuit, and Rose and his passenger, Morales, abandoned the car in an alley. Rose and Morales entered a maroon pickup truck that was parked in the same alley. Rose got into the driver's seat of the truck and Morales got into the passenger's seat.

Deputy Winter and three other officers stopped their patrol vehicles in the alley and ran to the maroon truck. Deputy Winter and a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer ran to the driver's side of the truck where Rose was seated. CHP Officer Shultz and Sheriff's Deputy Mah ran to the passenger side of the truck where Morales was seated. While the truck was still parked, Rose attempted to strike Deputy Winter through the driver's window to free himself from the deputy's grasp. Morales kicked and punched Deputy Mah and Officer Shultz through the passenger window. Rose then started the truck and drove it forward and away from the officers and collided with a CHP patrol car across the alley. Deputy Winter ran a few steps in the direction of the truck. Rose then reversed away from the patrol car and in the direction of Deputy Winter. Rose changed directions yet again and went forward to collide with Deputy Winter's patrol car. He reversed the truck away from the patrol car and backed up a second time in the direction of Deputy Winter. Deputy Winter moved out of the truck's path by moving to the right, so that he was then positioned on the passenger side of the truck. Rose brought the truck to a momentary stop, at which time Deputy Winter drew his gun and shot at Rose. A shot hit Rose in the chest and caused fatal injuries.

2. Morales's Criminal Proceedings

As a result of the incident, Morales was tried and convicted of two counts of driving a vehicle without the owner's consent, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon or by force likely to produce great bodily injury or death on a peace officer (ADW on an officer), one count of evading a pursuing officer, and one count of resisting an executive officer. One of the ADW on an officer counts was for ADW on Deputy Winter.

The prosecution's theory at trial was not that Morales was the direct perpetrator of the assault against Deputy Winter. Rather, the prosecution's theory was that she was guilty of assault because: (1) she aided and abetted Rose in evading an officer or resisting an officer; (2) during the commission of either evading an officer or resisting an officer, Rose committed ADW on an officer; and (3) Rose's ADW on an officer was a natural and probable consequence of his evading or resisting an officer. (People v. Mendoza (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1114, 1123 ["the aider and abettor is guilty not only of the intended, or target, offense, but also of any other crime the direct perpetrator actually commits that is a natural and probable consequence of the target offense"].) Thus, the jury was instructed with CALCRIM Nos. 400 and 401 on the principles of aiding and abetting, and with CALCRIM No. 402 as follows:

"The defendant is charged in Count 6 with evading a peace officer in violation of Vehicle Code section 2800.2 and in Count 7 with resisting an executive officer in violation of Penal Code section 69.

"The defendant is also charged in Counts 2, 3 and 4 with [ADW on an officer] in violation of Penal Code section 245(c).

"You must first decide whether the defendant is guilty of either evading a peace officer or resisting an executive officer or both. If you find the defendant is guilty of either one or both of these crimes, you must then decide whether she is guilty of [ADW on an officer].

"Under certain circumstances, a person who is guilty of one crime may also be guilty of other crimes that ...


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