A disgraced former Sheriff’s deputy is part of a federal civil verdict against the County of San Diego that has awarded the family of a Santee man $85 million.
Lucky Phounsy, 32, died after a confrontation involving San Diego Sheriff’s Department deputies in April 2015.
Among the six deputies the eight-person jury found negligent was former San Diego deputy Richard Fischer, who is currently in jail after pleading guilty in 2019 to assaulting women while on duty.
According to the original complaint in the Phounsy case, Fischer forcibly restrained the Santee man while in route to Grossmont Hospital.
“We’re satisfied. We asked the jury for truth and for justice and we think that this verdict reflects both,” said attorney Tim Scott.
On April 13, 2015, Phounsy began “experiencing symptoms of a mental health crisis, including paranoid delusions that someone was going to harm him and his family," according to the complaint.
“Deputies who responded were unnecessarily confrontational, aggressive and profane," the complaint alleged.
Attorneys also accused deputies of shocking Phounsy “repeatedly with a Taser, then used punches and baton strikes.” They ultimately "hogtied Lucky and carried him out of the house, hidden from his family’s view.”
The complaint also claims Fischer “forcibly restrained Lucky’s torso and head during the drive to Grossmont Hospital.”
“At some point before arriving at the hospital, Lucky’s heart stopped. While emergency room staff was, after several minutes, able to restart Lucky’s heart, Lucky died a few days later as a result of his encounter with the defendants,” reads the complaint.
“I hope they hear the jury’s verdict, I really do. It was 2015 when Lucky died, and they spent the next seven years lying about how he died, and covering up circumstances of his death, all the way up to the county medical examiner,” Scott said.
In response a county spokesperson released this statement to NBC 7:
“We will review the case and decide next steps. Until then, we have no comment on the case,” said Chuck Westerheide, Public Safety Group Communications Officer for the County of San Diego.
The Sheriff’s Department provided this statement:
"The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is aware of the verdict in the civil case brought on behalf of Lucky Phounsy. We appreciate the role of the jury and the work they put in on this case. In the days and weeks to come, the Department will meet with counsel to evaluate the verdict further. As always, our ultimate goal is to provide exceptional law enforcement services in San Diego County,”
Scott expects the verdict and award to be appealed.
“If past is prologue, they will fight it to the bitter end. If the jury’s verdict has taught them anything, they may reconsider and accept responsibility. That’s up to them,” said Scott.
Scott also ripped the Sheriff’s Department for lack of oversight on Deputy Fischer, who was the subject of complaints from women between 2015 and 2017.
“His track record speaks for itself. There were multiple excessive force complaints about this deputy, and his felonious conduct throughout this community occurred for years with no meaningful oversight,” said Scott.