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Sheriff named in lawsuit

Wrongful death and civil right violations claimed by parents of 17-year-old Bryan Miranda

Posted: February 5, 2009 1:04 a.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Defense lawyers will make a motion Feb. 26 to combine several claims in a wrongful death and civil rights violation lawsuit filed by Bryan Miranda's parents against Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca.

The jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 20.

The suit claims Baca, the sheriff's department and Deputy James Blankenship violated Miranda's civil rights and contributed to the 17-year-old's death on Dec. 2, 2007.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 10, 2008, in a Los Angeles Superior Court, names Bryan Miranda, his parents Irma Miranda and Antulio Miranda and his brother, Christian Miranda, all of Newhall, as plaintiffs.

The claims made against Blankenship, Baca and the sheriff's department include negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Suspected gang members shot Miranda at a party on the 21400 block of Arch Street in Newhall.

The crime remains unsolved.

Bryan Miranda, formerly of Newhall, was not a gang member, Sgt. Brian Schoonmaker said.

Miranda, then a student at College of the Canyons, was hanging out with a few friends from high school the night of the shooting. One of those friends was a known gang member, Schoonmaker said.

"Miranda and the gang members were friends from school who had gone their separate ways. The guys were having a reunion of sorts," Schoonmaker said.

Drivers in a brown Toyota Camry sprayed gunfire at the partygoers before the car sped off at about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 2, 2007, Schoonmaker said.

The first bullets struck Jose Valdez, of Palmdale. Bryan Miranda rushed to Valdez's side as the shooters unloaded several shots at Bryan Miranda, according to the lawsuit. The shots hit him in the back, buttocks, right arm and lower leg.

Blankenship stopped Antulio Miranda, as he transported the wounded Bryan Miranda and Valdez to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital minutes after the shooting. Bryan Miranda's brother Christian Miranda and another man were in the car at the time.

The lawsuit alleges Blankenship shone a flashlight in Bryan Miranda's face. The car's occupants told the deputy the severity of Miranda's injuries, according to the lawsuit. Blankenship allegedly forced Bryan Miranda out of the car and attempted to handcuff him, according to the lawsuit. Blankenship also allegedly kicked Bryan Miranda as he faded in-and-out of consciousness, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit claims an unnamed deputy told Miranda, "why don't you close your eyes and die you gangster."

The lawsuit further claims the hospital is only minutes from where the shooting took place and Blankenship's actions contributed to Bryan Miranda's death.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department Emergency Medical Services were dispatched at 12:38 a.m. and arrived at the scene of the traffic stop at 12:42 a.m. The lawsuit does not name the fire department as a defendant.

County paramedics delivered Bryan Miranda to the hospital at 12:51 a.m., and he was admitted at 12:57 a.m.

Miranda was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:40 a.m.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's report shows a different account of Bryan Miranda's car ride to the hospital.

The coroner's report relies on Blankenship's report that states the Mirandas' car lost control on the way to the hospital. Blankenship arrived at the scene of the traffic incident and called 911, the coroner's report said.

The plaintiffs seek an undisclosed amount of damages.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not return phone calls by deadline.


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