Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Friday, April 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mother Can Sue Police Who Shot Her Son

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss a case brought by the mother of a man who claims she was not allowed to visit her dying son after he was shot by Santa Ana police.

Plaintiffs R.S. and Phyllis Hallstrom - the minor daughter and mother of the deceased, Jason Hallstrom - sued the Orange County city of Santa Ana and five of its police officers in August.

Hallstrom and her granddaughter claim that Jason was involved in a brief car chase with two Santa Ana police officers, and that the officers shot him from behind while he was unarmed and "posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone."

The family claims that after shooting Jason the officers "unreasonably delayed" seeking medical attention for him, and while he was dying in the hospital other police officers "unreasonably prevented him from receiving visitors, including his mother."

Hallstrom alleges search and seizure violations, due process violations and false arrest and imprisonment.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the allegations are "mere conclusory statements" and that the complaint fails to state a claim for relief.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder denied the motion.

Snyder wrote in her nine-page ruling that "it is at least plausible that the moving defendants participated 'in some meaningful way' in the constitutional violations alleged," and she said that the defendants "have raised no meaningful arguments that they were not involved or were not aware that officers in the Santa Ana Police Department had been preventing plaintiffs from visiting decedent."

Snyder also said that the defendants "raise no new arguments suggesting that the denial of visitation rights was in furtherance of an investigation of that the court could determine at this stage that their conduct was in furtherance of an investigation."

"Accordingly, the court finds that it is still premature to determine whether preventing Hallstrom from visiting decedent was 'in the course or as a consequence of an investigation,'" she said.

She also rejected the officers' argument that the complaint was "factually deficient," since they "have cited no factually analogous cases, or any authority for that matter, in support of their argument."

"It is at least plausible that Hallstrom was denied access to her dying son as a result of the moving defendants' negligent or reckless acts or omissions," Snyder said.

The plaintiffs' attorney - John Fattahi, whose office is in Glendale, Calif. - declined to comment.

Counsel for the defendants did not respond to an email for comment on Friday afternoon.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.