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City of Torrance to pay $900,000 to son of a man killed by Torrance Police

The City of Torrance must pay $900,000 to the son of a man killed by Torrance Police in 2013, as ruled by a federal jury. Torrance Police shot Asa James Dolak on December 26, 2013 at Madrona Middle School. Following a verbal domestic dispute on Christmas Day, Dolak set his ex-girlfriend's apartment on fire, with his son inside, and then set fire to his mother's home.

After an extensive police search, officers received a report that someone matching Dolak's description was seen at Madrona Middle School, armed with a knife. Prior, Dolak threatened to kill his own family and police officers if confronted when speaking with law enforcement on the phone. Officers found Dolak at the school and after a confrontation, fatally shot the 19-year-old.

Dolak's family members filed suit against Torrance in 2014, alleging civil rights violations and negligence at the hands of Torrance police officers. The suit argued that Dolak was running when shot, and therefore posed no immediate threat. Four officers were involved - two were found negligent, one exonerated, and the jury deadlocked as to the last.

A federal jury ultimately awarded $900,000 to Dolak's son. The jurors valued the loss of a father at $6 million, but found Dolak 85% at fault for the officers' actions, which drastically reduced the award. Mildred O'Linn, lawyer for the city of Torrance, believed there was insufficient support for such a large monetary award. The city is considering appealing the jury's decision.

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