SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A jury awarded $21 million to a family whose pregnant teenager was shot and killed by police officers in 2017, according to attorneys.
Elena Mondragon was just 16 years old when undercover officers attempted to arrest her boyfriend on suspicion of armed robbery. While she and her boyfriend were in a vehicle that officers suspected was stolen, her boyfriend tried to flee the scene, ramming his car into a police van and injuring officers in the process.
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Officers fired into the vehicle at the suspect, but shots fired also struck Mondragon. She later died at the hospital. Both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office which deemed the shooting justified.
At the time of her death, Mondragon was in her first trimester of pregnancy. Mondragon’s family told KRON4 in 2017 that life was different now, “It’s not the same knowing she’s not going to be here tomorrow. It’s just hard. It’s just hard,” her uncle, Miguel Minjares said.
In 2018 KRON4 reported that the teen’s mother, Michelle Mondragon, filed a federal suit after the death of her daughter Elena at the hands of undercover police officers.
The jury’s decision on Friday was “a tremendous verdict for the family,” said plaintiffs’ attorney John Burris. Burris said the jury decided to split culpability between the man driving the car and the officers, so that the city of Fremont will likely supply about $10 million of the award. Fremont officials did not immediately comment on the jury’s decision.
In 2018, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the fatal police shooting was justified.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.