Boy, 15, holding toy gun is shot in Palmdale by LA County sheriff's deputy. $1.1 million award. Los Angeles County.


A 15-year-old boy playing cops and robbers on his bicycle with friends in Palmdale was shot by a sheriff's deputy after he allegedly pointed the toy gun at two officers. 

The Case

  • Case Name: William Fetters v. County of Los Angeles and Deputy Scott Sorrow
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court/ BC 437875
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, May 17, 2010
  • Type of Case: Civil Rights, Police Shooting
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Ernest Hiroshige
  • Plaintiffs:
    William Fetters, 15
  • Defendants:
    Deputy Scott Sorrow
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,127,600 + fees and costs
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,127,600
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $1.127 million against LA County. In addition plaintiff will seek attorneys fees and litigation costs.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    $2,600 in medical bills. The jury awarded the maximum allowed.

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:

    Jury was hung on this; will have a new trial.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 23 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 7 days
  • Jury Polls: 9-3 liability; 11-1 damages
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant anticipates post-trial motions and an appeal. Per plaintiff's counsel, defendants refused to settle. Per defense counsel, there have been no post-verdict settlement discussions.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Goldberg & Gage  by Bradley Gage, Woodland Hills.

    Law Offices of Robert R. Shiri, APC by Robert Shiri, Santa Monica.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Collins Collins Muir + Stewart LLP by Catie Mathers and Nicole Davis Tinkham, South Pasadena.


The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):



  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Catherine Scarf, Ph.D., clinical psychology, Los Angeles

    Bradley Roth, M.D., sugery, Los Angeles


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Otis Dobine, former LAPD officer (use of force).


  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Gil Juarado, retired LASD commander (use of force).

    Sgt. Paul Delhauer, LASD (crime scene reconstruction).


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On May 10, 2009 plaintiff, then a 15-year-old male high school student, was playing a game of "cops and robbers" with his friends on bicycles in Palmdale. He was holding a realistic looking toy gun as officers approached. The deputies claimed they saw the gun, felt it was putting individuals in danger and investigated. They claimed that when they told the boy to stop, he turned suddenly and pointed the gun at the deputies. Defendant deputy then shot plaintiff one time. His injuries were minimal.

    The plaintiff was criminally prosecuted with three charges of brandishing a weapon.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff listened to the deputies' commands and did not threaten them. The plaintiff claimed that when the deputies came up to him, he dropped the gun as instructed and then he was shot.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That when deputies told the boy to stop, he turned suddenly and pointed the gun at the deputies who were in fear for their lives.

    Defendants were not allowed to present evidence regarding plaintiff’s admissions and criminal prosecution to the jury.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Removal of a bullet lodged near the skin. Admitted medical bills totaled $2,760.

    Emotional distress, pain and suffering.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $2,760

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $49,999

Additional Notes

Defendants claim they will appeal. This is the second excessive force case Bradley Gage has handled against Deputy Sorrow. The first case resulted in a judgment for $1.6 million.