Family Sues NorCal Police Shooter

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Cops say he reached for a gun, his family says he had his hands up, police said he had a Walther PPQ replica BB gun in his waistband; now he’s dead.
     The parents of a 22-year-old hearing-impaired man killed by a Eureka police officer filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, after the shooter was not criminally charged. Eureka is almost 300 miles north of San Francisco on state highway 101.
     Lance McClain and Jeanne Barragan sued the city, the police department, and shooter Officer Stephen Linfoot, plus the other three officers on the scene and supervisory officers and policymakers, as Does, in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
     The night of Sept. 16, 2014, three officers were seeking a fugitive named Devine who was said to be armed and living in the unit adjoining the victim’s, Chief of Police Andrew Mills said in a taped October press conference made available by a local newspaper.
     Near midnight, two officers saw Thomas “Tommy” McClain in the street in front of the units, in a brief confrontation with a man in a blue truck, before he returned to his own porch, Mills said in the press conference.
     Afterward, McClain appeared to be “puffing up,” pushing his sleeves up and intently watching where the man had walked. He also touched his waistband in a move that is known to be checking for a firearm, according to the officers, who told their sergeant they were concerned, Mills said.
     Officer Linfoot, in a roving black-and-white was told to drive by the house slowly so McClain would go inside. Instead, McClain pulled a handgun from his waistband, and officers saw and heard him cycle the slide, which puts a bullet in the chamber. He put the gun back in his waistband, Mills said.
     Eureka Police Sergeant Stephens arrived and after an officer told him, “that is the man with the gun,” gave McClain “clear concise commands,” while Linfoot came over to cover, Mills claimed.
     “Linfoot could clearly see the gun in his waistband” from the side, Mills said.
     In response to commands, “McClain put his hands up and initially complied.”
     But when Stephens said, “‘I see the gun. Don’t touch it or I will shoot,’ McClain for an unexplained reason began to drop his hands toward the gun,” Mills said.
     Both officers directed McClain to “put your hands in the air!”
     McClain raised them slightly, Mills reported.
     “Stephens was going to have McClain walk forward and prone himself on the ground so he could be taken into custody safely; they could take the gun away from him,” Mills explained.
     Then, “for an unknown reason, Tommy McClain dropped his hands and grabbed the gun,” Mills claimed.
     Linfoot fired, striking McClain three times, once through the bicep and into his chest cavity, demonstrating that his arms could not have been in the air, according to Mills.
     After the shooting, the officers pulled a Walther PPQ replica BB gun from McClain’s waistband, Mills said. It was unloaded.
     The bleeding McClain was put in handcuffs; he was detained without reasonable suspicion and arrested without probable cause, according to the man’s parents’ complaint.
     “After being shot multiple times by Linfoot, decedent was immobile, bleeding profusely, and in obvious and critical need of emergency medical care and treatment. Defendants Linfoot and Doe officers did not timely summon medical care or permit medical personnel to treat decedent. The delay of medical care to decedent caused decedent extreme physical and emotional pain and suffering, and was a contributing cause of decedent’s death,” the complaint states.
     And in “shooting him without justification or excuse,” and allowing him to “lie bleeding on the pavement,” the officers violated California’s Bane Act, by “using violent acts or threatening to commit violent acts in retaliation against another person for exercising that person’s constitutional rights,” according to the complaint.
     The parents seek survival and wrongful death damages, and funeral and burial expenses and attorney’s fees, alleging unreasonable search and seizure for their son’s detention and arrest, excessive force, and denial of medical care. They also sue for violation of their own civil rights, saying the conduct of the officers are state actions that “shock the conscience,” according to the complaint.
     The city is vicariously liable for having deficient policies and practices that ratify excessive force and “detaining and arresting individuals without probable cause or reasonable suspicion,” the complaint states.
     The parents say the officers’ conduct was “willful, wanton, malicious, and done with reckless disregard for the rights and safety of decedent,” and seek punitive damages.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Dale K. Galipo of Woodland Hills. Who claims to have won an average of $6.6 million in recent excessive-force cases within 4 years, and is currently handling approximately sixty.

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