U.S. Marshal Shot Unarmed, Compliant Man In the Back, Suit Alleges
McALLEN, Texas (CN) - A U.S. marshal shot an unarmed man in the back after raiding his home for suspicion of kidnapping, though the man's alleged victim, his girlfriend, "answered the door" and "appeared fine, with her children happily outside playing," the wounded man claims in court.
Eliseo Alvarado sued the United States of America, U.S. Marshal Edgar Hernandez, and the city of San Juan and its police department, in Federal Court.
San Juan is on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Alvarado says he was at the home he shared with his mother and stepfather on April 25, 2012 when San Juan police and Hernandez stormed in without a warrant.
They were looking for Alvarado based on allegations that he had kidnapped his girlfriend and her kids, the 21-year-old Alvarado says.
"Despite the fact that Irma Linda Cisneros, the alleged kidnap victim, answered the door, appeared fine, with her children happily outside playing (and clearly not kidnapped), both the San Juan Police Department and the Deputy Marshal Hernandez entered the home with their weapons at the ready," the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
Alvarado says they found him in a bathroom and he complied with their orders to get on his knees with his hands on his head.
"After complying, and with his back to him, Marshal Edgar Hernandez shot Eliseo Alvarado in the back," the complaint states. "They thereafter handcuffed Eliseo Alvarado, as he lay bleeding, unarmed and crying out for help. No weapons of any kind were ever found in the home."
Alvarado was cleared of the kidnapping charges and his record remains clean, but his shooting injury is still giving him trouble, he says.
He seeks punitive damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations and negligence.
He also seeks medical expenses and lost wages.
He is represented by Larry Lawrence of Austin.
Police were called the night before the shooting after Alvarado allegedly kidnapped Cisneros and her kids and made death threats while in possession of a .45-caliber handgun, San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez told The (McAllen) Monitor newspaper.
Gonzalez disputes the lawsuit's version of events.
"There was consent," Gonzalez told The Monitor. "We made contact with the owner of the residence and after getting consent we came upon the wife and on the victim, who claimed that the suspect wasn't inside. Following procedure, the officers went to clear the house and came upon the suspect who had barricaded himself in the bathroom."