Parents of Beverly Grove man killed by intruder sue LAPD

The parents of a 31-year-old man fatally stabbed by an intruder in his Beverly Grove home last year have sued the Los Angeles Police Department, alleging police mishandled multiple 911 calls about the suspect in the hours before the attack. .

Neighbors of Gabriel “Gabe” Donnay had called police on the suspect, Enoch Conners, at least four times that day for jumping fences in the neighborhood and threatening residents. Officers spoke with Conners multiple times, each time letting him go and telling neighbors they were safe to return home, according to the lawsuit.

In doing so, LAPD “unreasonably created a false sense of security” in the neighborhood and “created an opportunity” for Conners to continue jumping fences and ultimately kill Donnay minutes after the last 911 call, Albert Donnay and Yvonne Ottaviano alleged.

“Prior to officers’ false assurances, the Beverly Grove community had been vigilant in watching Mr. Conner’s movements to ensure his physical safety,” the lawsuit says. “The neighborhood did not lower its alert status until officers falsely [assured] their safety and affirmatively instructed them to return to their homes.”

The wrongful death lawsuit in federal court alleges that the officers’ actions amounted to a “state-created danger” that caused Donnay’s death on March 29, 2021, and her parents “pain, emotional anguish, and pain and suffering.” ”. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

LAPD spokeswoman Capt. Kelly Muniz said the department cannot comment on ongoing litigation but sends her condolences to Donnay’s family. The city attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, which follows a similar one the parents filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, is the most formal challenge yet to the LAPD’s actions that led to Donnay’s murder. His death devastated Donnay’s family and a wide circle of friends, terrified and angered his neighbors, exacerbated tensions between local homeowners and those living in nearby homeless encampments, and raised questions for many about how that LAPD officers engage those who are volatile or mentally challenged. crisis

Police said Conners, who killed himself in an adjacent backyard after killing Donnay, was passing through and living out of his car, and neighbors who interacted with him before Donnay’s slaying said he was acting erratically and he seemed to be experiencing a mental breakdown.

Police previously said officers responding to the neighborhood that day had limited options because they had not personally witnessed Conners’ trespassing, did not have a resident willing to make a citizen’s arrest, and therefore had no reason to stop him.

“There’s not much they can do,” Det. Sean Kinchla of the West Bureau’s homicide unit said at the time. “On the one hand, you have to try to help the person doing the [911] called, but on the other hand, the person who is the object of the call also has rights”.

Donnay’s brother, Theo Donnay, speaking on behalf of the family, said they filed their lawsuit in part to challenge that notion and force a change in how police respond in such situations, in hopes of preventing similar attacks elsewhere. the future.

“When I called the LAPD detective days after this incident, we had talked about everything that happened and I said, ‘What can prevent the exact same thing from happening this afternoon to someone else?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely nothing,’” she said. “That is unacceptable.”

According to the lawsuit, a Beverly Grove resident made the first 911 call at 1:32 p.m., after Conners jumped a wall into the man’s backyard and startled him, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s mother. says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says LAPD officers arrived a half hour later, spoke with Conners, and then “irresponsibly released him.”

Less than an hour later, another man with a business in the neighborhood saw Conners “disappear through some bushes” onto another owner’s adjacent property and then reappear holding a large rock. That business owner made a second 911 call about Conners, the lawsuit says.

About 30 minutes later, two other residents heard Conners’ screams, and one confronted him and told him to leave his property, according to the lawsuit.

At 3:45 p.m., three residents saw Los Angeles police officers talking to Conners again. An officer told one of the residents that Conners was mentally ill, that the officers would “handle him” and that the men should go home.

Officers then released Conners a second time, according to the lawsuit.

At 4:15 p.m., a passing Uber driver told another neighbor named Claudia Beaton that a man was scaling walls and jumping fences, prompting her to call 911 as well, according to the lawsuit.

A dispatcher told Beaton that police couldn’t do anything unless Conners was “currently in her yard,” then transferred her to a non-emergency line, according to the lawsuit.

Shortly afterward, Conners entered Beaton’s yard, and she and her husband loudly yelled at her to leave while trying to warn other neighbors, according to the lawsuit.

Around 4:35 p.m., LAPD officers arrived in the neighborhood for a third time and “conducted a brief, cursory search” for Conners before telling Beaton the area was safe and they were leaving again, the suit says.

About five minutes later, Conners entered Donnay’s home, according to the lawsuit. Donnay found him “unhinged” in a bedroom, at which point Conners attacked Donnay with a knife as Donnay tried to escape the house, the suit says.

Donnay’s roommate heard the struggle, saw “a trail of blood up the stairs, through a hallway and out,” then saw Conners repeatedly stab Donnay in the backyard before he screamed and Conners jumped a fence. to another yard, the suit says.

The roommate “cradled Mr. Donnay as he lay dying of his injuries,” the suit says.

Donnay suffered 10 stab wounds and more than 20 cuts to her body, according to the lawsuit.

Danielle Peters, a neighbor who grew up in Beverly Grove and still lives there, said the lawsuit’s description of police failure to act was “100% accurate,” and she’s glad the family is suing.

Encampments in the area have spiraled out of control, people in crisis roam the streets at all hours, residents are being mugged, robbed and robbed, and police and local officials are acting like they can’t do anything about it, Peters said. .

He said a law is needed “to stop someone when they’re acting that way and stop them to see if they’re mentally stable to be released.”

Peters said he was recently driving through the neighborhood when he saw a man in the street who was screaming, breaking things and ripping off his clothes, and he thought he might hurt someone.

She fears that an attack similar to Donnay’s could happen again.

“There’s just nothing in place to prevent the exact same scenario from happening again,” he said, “except maybe neighbors taking matters into their own hands.”

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