Los Angeles police gunned down an unarmed 51-year-old man after a car chase through South LA’s streets on December 13, as the man’s 80-year-old dad watched in horror on live television. Now his family is trying to understand why Brian Beaird had to die.
Beaird’s family filed a $20 million claim against the city Friday, an action that is likely a precursor to a wrongful death lawsuit.
“They killed him,” said Beaird’s grieving dad, Bill Beaird, speaking to reporters from The Los Angeles Times and other organizations, his eyes filled with tears.
The shattered father, who lived with his disabled Army veteran son, spoke with Southern California Public Radio, saying that his son called him from inside the car during the pursuit but he still does not know why Brian Beaird did not stop his car, even though his dad pleaded with him to do so.
“He said he was going to do it, but he didn’t’ do it,” the elder Beaird said. “He had some kind of, I don’t know, problem with police.”
Brian Beaird, his family said, simply had an irrational fear of police that they link to a brain surgery gone wrong in 1988. The surgery, which he underwent to have a brain tumor removed, altered his brain function in a way that left him gripped by paranoia, a symptom that grew particularly acute around police.
“He was simply afraid and paranoid of the police, even though he has never been convicted of any felonies,” explained family lawyer Dale Galipo. “And that paranoia of the police is one of the reasons why he didn’t pull over.”
Nonetheless, his brother John said that although Brian “made a lot of bad decisions that day,” he did nothing to justify cops cutting him down in a hail of bullets. Police fired 22 rounds at Beaird as he raised his hands and had his back to them.
In Los Angeles, where freeway and car culture is all-important, local TV news broadcasts police pursuits on a frequent basis. This one was no different, but the ending was especially brutal. The chase ended when Beaird’s Corvette broadsided another car, leaving two passengers with serious injuries.
Beaird then staggered out of his car, appeared to briefly raise his hands and then was quickly gunned down by three LAPD officers.
“I can only imagine how terrified and alone he was in the last moments of his life,” said John Beaird.
Bill Beaird is himself a military veteran with 37-years in the armed service.
“I’ve seen a lot, but nothing has affected me like this,” he said, outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. “I just can’t seem to get over this.”