Valerie Allen’s scars are hard to miss, from the jagged one on her right arm, to the bullet hole on her stomach, to the stun gun burn on her chest.
Allen was shot and hit with a stun gun by LAPD officers during a wild episode of paranoia in Los Feliz three years ago.
“I didn’t know they were police officers, I believed they were assassins,” Allen said. “I was under paranoid delusions at the time.”
Allen suffers from bipolar disorder. Even though she doesn’t deny attacking one of the officers with a wooden stake, a federal jury this week awarded her $3.2 million, having determined that LAPD officers were negligent, malicious and used excessive force that night.
Police Chief Charlie Beck was unavailable for an interview, but issued a written statement supporting the use of force in this case.
“She attacked them with a sharpened construction stake,” he said. “I don’t expect my officers to be hurt or killed by someone before they act. I stand by the actions of our officers completely.”
However, Allen’s attorney, Martin Stanley, said officers were never in danger.
“She’s a harmless woman, 5-foot-3, 220 or 230 pounds. One of the officers was 6-foot-2, 260,” Stanley said. “She could have easily been tackled.”
The Allen case is far from singular. Los Angeles has a long list of million-dollar payouts due to police-related lawsuits.
According to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the city’s taxpayers paid out $20.4 million in the 2011-2012 fiscal year due to police lawsuits. It was $23.4 million in the 2010-2011 year, and $31.9 million in 2009-2010.
Allen said she plans on taking her award and moving to Florida.