Friday, September 29, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Friday, September 29, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cops to Face Trial in Shooting of Manic Man

(CN) - A federal judge advanced most claims against a California deputy sheriff who shot a keychain-wielding man in the stomach and the county that delayed him treatment.

Lead plaintiff Laurel Bresaz sued Santa Clara County and two offers in Federal Court in 2014.

Bresaz claims her husband Brandon Marshall was shot in the stomach by defendant officer Aldo Groba while having a manic attack at work in 2013.

Marshall, an engineer, was employed by nonparty electronics company Roku in Saratoga, and "had a history of mental illness for which he had taken prescription medication," his wife claims.

In December 2013, Marshall "lost touch with reality and began to suffer from delusional beliefs" at work, the lawsuit states, and requested that his father pick him up.

Marshall was reportedly seen ingesting pills, believed to be prescription medication, when his co-workers called 911 seeking help.

Marshall left the Roku building, Bresaz claims, where he was approached by Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office deputies Groba and Kristin Anderson, also a defendant.

Rather than allowing paramedics - who had taken steps to contain the situation - to continue their work unimpeded, the defendant officers allegedly provoked "a violent confrontation."

Anderson approached Marshall from behind, when his back was to her, and began interacting with him, Bresaz claims.

The move caused Marshall "to become even more upset and agitated," and, "possibly in self-defense," he allegedly swung his keychain - a short, thin, rounded, aluminum rod - at the deputies, the lawsuit states.

"In response, Deputy Groba fatally shot Brandon in the stomach, knowing or intending that death would occur," Bresaz claims. "The deputies had been on the scene for only a brief time before shots were fired."

Groba did not warn Marshall before firing, Bresaz added, "even though a warning would have been feasible and proper."

Marshall was on the phone with a paramedic at the scene when he was shot, the lawsuit says.

Groba or Anderson or both then restrained Marshall's legs with zip ties and "delay[ed] critical medical treatment for the gunshot wound."

Marshall was transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where his family was allegedly "repeatedly told that staff was stabilizing [the decedent's] condition."

Marshall died a short time later, Bresaz claims.

Bresaz was joined by Marshall's parents, co-plaintiffs Donna Hayes and Dr. Steven Marshall, in claiming wrongful death, excessive force, denial of medical treatment, negligence, emotional distress, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal and state statutes.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh dismissed the plaintiffs' Bane Act and ADA claims, finding the family did not sufficiently allege that Marshall was disabled or assert a personal cause of action under the Bane Act, and that the defendants were not obligated to accommodate Marshall "even if the decedent was regarded as having suffered from a disability."

"Bresaz asserts the ADA claim against various public entities under Title II. However, 'a public entity need not provide a reasonable accommodation or a reasonable modification to policies, practices, or procedures to an individual who meets the definition of disability,'" Koh wrote.

She added that the family did not sufficiently allege that Marshall "suffered from a qualifying physical or mental impairment as defined by the ADA."

Marshall's parents could not plead California's Bane Act because they were not "the subject of violence or threats," the 20-page ruling states.

California's Bane Act provides that when an individual's rights are interfered with by threats, intimidation or coercion, he or she may file a civil action for damages, injunctive relief and "other appropriate equitable relief."

"At most, Hayes and Marshall were deprived of their substantive due process rights because of the acts of violence or threats of violence committed by defendants against the decedent," Koh added. "This is the exact sort of 'derivative liability' claim that is not supposed to be actionable under the Bane Act."

Koh otherwise denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, ruling that the remainder of the plaintiffs' 11 claims stand.

The parties could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.