Aug 15, 2023, Council meeting Closed Session Report:
City Attorney Dick Jones announced that on a vote of 4-0 (Zahra absent), the city reached an $8.6 million settlement with the Hernandez Family, who sued the city after family member Hector Hernandez was shot and killed by Fullerton Police Officer Ferrell in his front yard on May 27, 2020. All except $500,000 will be paid by insurance.
According to the district attorney’s report and an accompanying video, one of Hernandez’s sons called the police to report his stepfather for being drunk, hitting his brother, and brandishing a knife. The boy also said that Hernandez had armed himself with a gun and fired the weapon.
After police arrived, body-worn camera footage of the shooting shows Ferrell approaching Hernandez’s home with his K-9 dog unit while officers have their guns drawn. In the footage, as Ferrell gets up to the home, he directs the dog toward Hernandez, standing in his front yard with his hands up. The D.A. report says Hernandez turned as though he were going back inside his home. Ferrell believed there were children still in the house.
The police footage and the D.A. report reference that the dog first disobeyed, ran toward other officers, and then at the urging of Ferrell, the dog rushed toward Hernandez and took him down. Hernandez puts one of his arms down and takes a 3-inch knife from his pocket. After the dog takes him down, Hernandez stabs the dog near the shoulder blade.
Ferrell runs up to Hernandez, fires a shot, yells, “He’s got a knife!” and fires another round. Ferrell pulls the dog from Hernandez tearing away at Hernandez’s shirt. See video footage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqONr02vrpg
In a press release, OCDA Todd Spitzer said the use of force was justified and declined to file charges against Ferrell. Neighbors and family members, who witnessed the shooting, questioned why police had not used non-lethal tasers or rubber bullets.