Recent news reports out of Gardena, California, regarding the shooting that occurred at their local high school, claim that the family of one of the wounded students intends to file a lawsuit against the school district. Let’s review the facts in the case, and then we’ll look at the lawsuit.
Trendell Gholar was the 15 year old boy who was shot first by a bullet allegedly fired accidently by a fellow classmate on January 18. Original reports indicated that the gun somehow discharged when the boy’s backpack was dropped on the desk. That story has been modified, and new reports indicate that the gun went off when the 17-year old boy reached into his backpack to get something to eat, in the process, triggering the gun and causing it to discharge a single bullet which first hit Trendell in the neck and then hit a 15-year old girl in the head, fracturing her skull. While Trendell was treated and eventually released, the 15-year old girl remains in serious condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where doctors say she is showing signs of improvement; opening her eyes and responding to questions by nodding.
The 17-year old who brought the gun to school was already on probation for a misdemeanor battery charge prior to this incident. And his friends have stated that it isn’t the first time he brought a gun to school. Para Ross, a fellow classmate said, “I think he was just scared — scared of what was going to happen when he left school and took the bus home. There are a lot of gangs around here. People are dying.” Regardless of his rationale behind bringing the gun to school, this boy faces two felonies: possessing a firearm in a school zone and discharging a firearm in a school zone, and, if he is tried as an adult, he could face up to seven years in a state prison. If, however, he is tried as a minor, he might face a maximum of nine months in a juvenile detention center.
On January 24, KTLA News reported that the mother of 15-year old Trendell Gholar has hired lawyers from the Cochran Firm, who, in a statement released on Friday, January 21, stated that the Los Angeles Unified School District “failed miserably” in its duty to protect its students. To file a lawsuit against the government, attorneys first must file a claim, which they intend to do sometime this week, and unless there is a settlement, the lawsuit proceeds. In the initial claim, Gholar’s attorneys first declare that the LAUSD failed to guarantee the safety of its students by following established security procedures which involve passing metal detector wands over all students and their backpacks as they enter the school. The school district admitted to KTLA that it’s possible that security policies were not followed that day; they admit that the wanding had been inconsistent over the weeks and months before this incident and that it’s possible wanding wasn’t done on January 18th at all.
This lawsuit will also focus on the effectiveness of the school’s emergency response in respect to their treatment of Gholar after he was shot. Apparently, Gholar staggered into the hall after the discharged bullet passed through his neck. At this point, he was ushered into the nurse’s office where he was locked in for 40 minutes, during which time, he received no medical treatment for his wound.
In a statement from the Los Angeles Unified School District in response to this pending lawsuit, they stated: “Providing a safe and healthy environment for our students is a top priority for the District, so we intend to learn as much as we can from the events to ensure that students are appropriately treated and cared for in emergency situations.”
By its own admission, the school district had become lackadaisical in its security measures, and its half-hearted efforts to wand students who entered the premises provided the opportunity for the very thing the security measures were designed to eradicate to occur. Leaving me to believe that this lawsuit, if it goes to trial, will be a slam dunk for Gholar’s attorneys.
We will have to wait to see if the parents of the seriously injured 15-year old girl will file a lawsuit as well.