By Lisa Keller of Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP posted in police misconduct on Friday, May 31, 2019.
On February 6, 2018, Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies entered the quiet Laguna Woods Village gated retirement community in broad daylight and surrounded the home of Paul Mono, a sixty-five-year-old blind man, before shooting and killing him in his living room while his wife, Plaintiff Susan Peck, looked on from only a few feet away. Mr. Mono, a syndicated cartoonist whose work had been published in The New York Times and hundreds of other newspapers, had no criminal record and had committed no crime. Mr. Mono was experiencing a mental crisis, in large part due to the loss of his vision. He and his wife had recently purchased a condo in the community and in addition to dealing with his progressive blindness, Mr. Mono was upset with the general contractor’s shoddy work. The contractor — who was listening in on the realtor’s cell phone as Mono vented his frustration to her — called 9-1-1.
“This was a police-created killing,” said HSR attorney Dan Stormer “There was no need for the Sheriff’s deputies to take Paul’s life. The Sheriff’s Department is supposed to train its deputies in how to deal with people experiencing mental crises and de-escalate situations like this. The Department and the deputies clearly failed here.”
Upon arrival, the 5 deputies did not properly assess the situation. Without consulting with key witnesses – including the realtor – who could have explained that Mono was blind and not dangerous, they rapidly surrounded the house with guns drawn. They pointed their weapons at Mono and Peck, barked confusing orders at them, and then recklessly fired 14 bullets through the doors and windows of the house, killing Mono and narrowly missing Peck – who watched in horror.
“The loss here is truly heartbreaking,” said Joshua Piovia-Scott, also of Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP. “The community has lost a talented artist and a family has lost a beloved father and husband. As a blind person clearly experiencing a mental crisis, the Sheriff’s deputies should have handled Paul with care. They simply didn’t do so. Not only did they shoot 14 times as his wife stood just feet away but some of the bullets went through the wall into the neighbor’s condo right by where she typically watched TV. There could have been even more deaths in this situation from the deputies’ reckless conduct.”
“This is really an outrageous case,” said Joshua J. Nuni, also of Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP. “The Sheriff’s deputies here barged into one of the most peaceful communities you could imagine in broad daylight and needlessly shot a retiree in his own living room right in front of his wife. They were clearly irresponsibly rushing. By their own timeline, they arrived at the scene and had shot and killed Paul within ten minutes.”
“We moved to Laguna Woods Village because we thought we’d be safe there,” Peck said. “Instead, the Sheriff’s Deputies came and took everything away from us. We were minding our own business in our home. Paul wasn’t a threat to anyone. There was no reason this had to happen, and we want justice.”
An archive of Mono’s artwork may be accessed at: http://pdlankovsky.com.