Jury rules that Buena Park police used excessive force in 2019 killing of teen

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

An Orange County jury ruled Wednesday that Buena Park police used excessive force when officers shot and killed a 19-year-old experiencing a mental breakdown, according to lawyers representing the victim’s family.

David Patrick Sullivan, 19, was shot to death by police on August 19, 2019, after he stole a car from work. Buena Park officers Bobby Colon and Jennifer Tran attempted to pull Sullivan over but he tried to flee, hitting the police vehicle and a passerby in the process.

Sullivan then exited the vehicle and charged the officers by foot when they opened fire. The officers fired seven shots, striking him four times. Sullivan was unarmed.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Sullivan screamed profanities at the officers before charging them. The DA’s office said Colon told investigators that he “feared Sullivan was going to attack him, disarm him, and use his gun against him or his partner.”

Colon said he saw that Sullivan didn’t have a firearm in his hands but believed he could have one in his waistband.

Sullivan had an apparent suicide note written out to his family in his pocket, according to lawyers and the DA’s Office. According to lawyers, Sullivan was suffering from a mental breakdown during the deadly incident.

In June of 2020, the DA’s Office chose not to charge Colon and Tran after they found the shooting to be justified.

The Santa Ana jury on Wednesday disagreed. After a civil re-trial, they awarded $3.5 million in damages to Sullivan’s mother.

The re-trial came after a mistrial was declared for a hung jury in federal court in 2022.

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.