Federal jury awards $21 million to family of pregnant teen shot and killed by police

A federal jury has awarded $21 million to the family of a pregnant teen who was shot and killed by undercover police officers in California five years ago.

In 2017, Elena Mondragon was one of four passengers in a stolen BMW pulling out of a Hayward apartment complex when an unmarked van filled with undercover Fremont police officers tried to cut it off, according to a complaint filed by the girl’s family. The driver of the BMW was Rico Tiger, who was wanted by police, unbeknownst to Mondragon.

As noted by The Mercury News, the van pulled “‘nose to nose’ with the bumper of the BMW, briefly ‘chirped’ the siren” and “activated police lights in the visor.” Fremont police say Tiger then rammed the van, promoting the undercover officers to open fire. Mondragon, 16 years old and pregnant, died from the gunfire. Tiger escaped, but was later arrested in San Francisco. He was charged with the murder of Mondragon under the state provocation act. However, that case is still pending.

After deliberating for two days, the seven-member jury decided Friday that three Fremont officers acted negligently during the covert operation. The jury awarded the family $21 million. Tiger will be paying about half while the city of Fremont will be paying the rest.

“They banked that nobody was going to care about Ebbie. That’s what I believe,” Melissa Nold, one of the family’s attorneys told The Mercury News. “They looked at the situation and who she was and who her family was and decided that her life didn’t matter, that her life didn’t have value.”



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