SAN DIEGO (CN) – A Gulf war veteran and his wife say a sheriff’s deputy shot the veteran in the back, leaving him paraplegic, and that the Sheriff’s Department then lied about the shooting, claiming the veteran had shot first.
Michael and Kimberly Foster sued San Diego County and its Sheriff William Gore in Federal Court.
Kimberly Foster says she called 911 from her Alpine home on Oct. 19, 2010, “out of concern for her husband’s safety.” She says she felt that her husband, an Army medic who had served in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf, “was having a PTSD episode.”
Alpine is a distant suburb in the hills east of San Diego.
She says San Diego County Sheriff deputies and a SWAT team responded to her call.
“At approximately 1:00 pm, plaintiff Michael Foster walked outside into his back yard in broad daylight. With his back turned to the officers and without provocation, plaintiff Michael Foster was shot multiple times in the back by the SWAT team members,” the complaint states.
Kimberly adds that “at the time he was shot,” her husband “posed no immediate threat of harm to any of the officers.”
She says that when she heard the shots she thought her husband had been killed.
“Immediately after the shooting, San Diego Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dennis Brugos made a public statement indicating that the Sheriff SWAT officers shot Mr. Foster because Mr. Foster first shot at them one or two times,” the complaint states. “Lieutenant Brugos’ statement was entirely false as subsequent investigation has proven that Mr. Foster never discharged his firearm in the presence of the sheriff’s officers.”
The Fosters say the County of San Diego stuck by the story, even though Brugos’ statement was “indisputably false.”
Brugos is not named as a defendant. The only named defendants are the county, Sheriff Gore, and Does 1-30. The complaint does not name the officer or officers who shot Michael Foster.
The shooting left Michael with a fractured spine, “requiring him to undergo a spinal fusion of the T11 – L2 vertebrae.”
“Although plaintiff’s life was miraculously saved by the emergency treatment, the severe spinal injury has resulted in Mr. Foster becoming paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. Plaintiff was also required to stay in the hospital approximately three months before he was declared medically stable to be released from the hospital,” the Fosters say. They say “numerous bullet fragments still remain inside his back that are too dangerous to remove.”
Kimberly says that her husband “can no longer assist with housework, have sexual intercourse, father a child, participate in family, recreational, or societal activities.”
The Fosters seek punitive damages for excessive force, failure to properly screen and hire, failure to supervise and discipline, liability for pattern of brutality, violation of the Bane Act, negligence, assault and battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.
They are represented by Brandon Smith.