Twyman, who was in the driver’s seat, and Laffell, “made no aggressive movements, furtive gestures or physical movements which would suggest to a reasonable law enforcement officer that either of them was armed with any kind of weapon,” the claim states.
A spokesman for the department declined to comment and referred The Times to a written statement released Friday expressing condolences to the family and friends of Twyman. The incident was one of three fatal shootings that deputies were involved in during a single day.
Brian Dunn, one of the attorneys who filed the claim, said that the deputies fired 34 rounds at the two men. Coroner’s officials have not released an autopsy report on the death and the Sheriff’s Department has not released details on the circumstances of the shooting.
“It’s a miracle that the passenger wasn’t hit,” he said.
Dunn said that deputies were attempting to arrest Twyman because they had previously found weapons in his home.
Neither Twyman nor Laffell was armed that day, the claim states. Sheriff’s officials have confirmed that no weapons were found.
As the two men sat in the car, the deputies proceeded to “assault and batter them and subject them to the unreasonable and excessive use of deadly force by repeatedly and unjustifiably discharging their department-issued firearms into the Kia,” according to the claim.
After the shooting, attorneys claim that Laffell was unreasonably detained for hours. The claim argues that the two men didn’t pose any “reasonable or credible threat of violence” toward the deputies.
Dunn said that deputies approached the vehicle and one opened the back passenger side door. When the door opened, the car began moving in reverse, prompting the shooting, he said.
“There’s never any tactical justification for shooting into a moving vehicle,” he said. “The only conceivable way is if it is a shootout and the person inside the vehicle is actively firing at people outside the vehicle.”
The shooting has sparked condemnation from community activists who have called for an outside investigation.
Last week, people gathered outside the apartment complex where Twyman was shot to raise money for his three children. Family members made signs that said “Justice 4 Ryan Twyman” and some wore white shirts that proclaimed “JusticeForRyan (It Could’ve Been Me.)”
Lexus Twyman, a cousin of Ryan Twyman’s, said that he grew up in the area and came from a large, close family. He was the youngest of three brothers, and had two younger sisters.
Connie Parson was inside her home when she heard the gunfire that sounded like a drive-by shooting. She rushed out of her back door and said she saw two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies with their guns pointed at a white car.
“The way they were shooting, you would think they were in a war with someone else,” Parson said.