William Dotinga

Cop Fatally Shot Unarmed Man, Forbade Family from Giving Him CPR, Family Claims

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Showing "total lack of awareness," a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy awoke a mentally ill man and then shot him to death in his own bedroom, the man's family claims in court.
     Theodore and Karen Rose sued Sacramento County, its Sheriff Scott Jones, and Deputy David McEntire for the wrongful death of their son Johnathan Rose, in Federal Court.
     The Roses called 911 on Jan. 17, 2012, to report that Johnathan, 24, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, had become agitated after his first meeting with a new psychiatrist.
     The Roses say in the complaint that they had learned while living in nearby Placer County that the best way to defuse these situations was to call for police assistance.
     Also, Ted Rose's health had declined after he had a heart attack in 2010. He says in the complaint that though he called 911, he did not overdramatize the situation or indicate that Johnathan was on a rampage.
     After Ted Rose's 911 call, Johnathan calmed down enough to take his medication and fall asleep. More than an hour later, Deputy McEntire showed up at the Rose home, the Roses say.
     "Unbeknownst to Ted Rose, the Sheriff's Department dispatch practice was to downgrade a call regarding someone who was potentially '5150' [a danger to himself or others] when the Sheriff's Department received only a single call for service. Had Ted Rose placed multiple calls, the protocol would have required a minimum of two officers responding," the Roses say in the complaint.
     When McEntire arrived, the parents say, he ignored their attempts to explain that the situation was no longer volatile and did not require officer intervention. They say McEntire barked, "Where is he?" and barged into their home without permission.
     "Johnathan was sleeping on a mattress in the living room because he had given up his own bedroom to his sister, who was staying at the house temporarily," the complaint states.
     "During the entire interaction between Deputy McEntire and Johnathan Rose, his mother Karen was in the bathroom and Johnathan's brother Theodore Jr. was in his bedroom. Although they could hear much of what was happening, they were not able to see most of what transpired.
     "Deputy McEntire went directly to Johnathan, who was sleeping on the mattress, and yelled 'Get up' twice.
     "Johnathan, although startled, stood up as directed. Johnathan faced the wall and put his hands behind his back, apparently expecting to be handcuffed.
     "Deputy McEntire then ordered Johnathan to get on the ground."
     But Johnathan's illness included an extreme phobia of germs. The Roses say that while their son started to get on the ground, he was psychologically unable to lie down on a dirty floor - and he stood back up and asked to be arrested.
     "This was not a sufficient response for McEntire," the complaint states. McEntire, without warning or reflection, bear-hug tackled Johnathan into the wall with sufficient force so as to cause Johnathan to bust a hole through the wall. McEntire then hit Johnathan on the head with his metal flashlight, again without warning. Johnathan, with McEntire on top of him, fell onto his mattress on the floor. McEntire, on top of Johnathan, started to pummel him with punches. At that point, Johnathan attempted to defend himself by trying to block McEntire's blows, and he also threw some punches in response to McEntire's blows in a desperate attempt to try to stop the attack.
     "Ted Rose, shocked by the bizarre turn of events, grabbed his son in an attempt to end the physical confrontation. He urged his son to 'stop' and warned his son, 'He's going to hurt you.'
     "Then without warning, Deputy McEntire fired three shots in rapid succession into Johnathan while Ted Rose held his son.
     "Johnathan went limp after the shots but was breathing.
     "Johnathan never used or attempted to use any weapon or weapon of opportunity during the struggle with Deputy McEntire.
     "Johnathan never grabbed or attempted to grab Deputy McEntire's firearm or any of his other law enforcement weapons."
     The Roses say they asked McEntire to administer first aid to their son. He not only refused, but forbade the family from doing it, according to the complaint.
     "Ted Rose repeatedly and plaintively asked Deputy McEntire why he'd shot his son. McEntire responded, 'I don't know, I don't know, I don't know,'" the complaint states.
     When an ambulance arrived, Johnathan was still breathing. But sheriff's deputies refused to allow any members of the family to accompany Johnathan to the hospital - detaining Theodore Jr. in the back of a police car and threatening to arrest Johnathan's sister Tiffany, who hadn't even been home at the time of the shooting.
     Johnathan died that evening. The Roses say their son's death resulted from an abysmal lack of training in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
     "Law enforcement agencies in California, including the Sacramento Sheriff's Department, have been aware of the increasing number of mental health-related calls as there has been a reduction in funding of mental health services. Because of that, the Sheriff's Department is aware of the need for specialized training and protocols when dealing with potentially mentally ill individuals," the complaint states.
     "Deputy McEntire's actions indicate a total lack of awareness in regard to handling a mentally ill individual. Any reasonably trained officer would not have escalated this situation or used deadly force.
     "Plaintiffs are informed and believe that a substantial number of the law enforcement related shootings within Sacramento County have involved mentally ill individuals.
     "Deputy McEntire has a history of excessive force that the Sheriff's Department is actually aware of involving incidents occurring both before and after this shooting.
     "The Sheriff's Department does not track individual officers' uses of force for the purpose of identifying potential problem officers. The importance and value of tracking this information has been widely recognized and accepted in law enforcement for at least 20 years and, in particular, as a result of the Christopher Commission report in the aftermath of the Rodney King case.
     "Plaintiffs believe and allege that the death of their son was the result of deficient training and supervision and unconstitutional policies, practices and customs at the Sheriff's Department regarding the use of force and regarding interactions with mentally ill or impaired individuals.
     "Plaintiffs believe and allege that the Sheriff's Department has a history of unnecessary and fatal encounters with mentally ill individuals. Further, this is not the only time that a family member has called for assistance for a mentally ill relative who was not acting out violently and who was shot and killed in his own home."
     The Roses say they want to prevent other families from suffering what they did. They ask the court to find the defendants' policies "inadequate and constitutionally deficient." They also seek compensatory, general, special, punitive and exemplary damages.
     In an interview with ABC affiliate News10 last year, Sheriff Jones defended his deputy's actions and called the shooting justified.
     "In this case, the shooting was within policy and within the law," Jones said. "I find no satisfaction in saying that."
     The Roses are represented by Stewart Katz of Sacramento, and Moseley Collins III of El Dorado Hills.

Cops Taser Then Shoot Man to Death After Family Calls 911 for Help for His Depression

A California sheriff's deputy needlessly Tasered and then shot a man to death after his father called 911 seeking help for his son's depression, the family claims in court.
     Parents and two brothers of the late George I. Ramirez sued Stanislaus County, its sheriff's department, Sheriff Adam Christianson, and Deputy Art Parra Jr. in Federal Court.
     George Ramirez, the father, says he called 911 on April 16, 2012, seeking help for his son. Ramirez says in the complaint that he told the 911 operator that his son was depressed, but never said that the family was in danger or that a crime was in progress.
     Deputy Parra responded, finding the father changing a headlight and the mother indoors doing housework. The family says Parra asked about the son's whereabouts, but did not ask for details regarding his condition or why the family called 911.
     Parra found Ramirez on the couch watching television, unaware that his family had called 911. Parra confirmed his identity and placed him under arrest by ordering him to stand up and turn around, according to the complaint.
     "In the process of standing up and complying with orders, Ramirez asked Parra why he was under arrest and if he could see his credentials," the complaint states.
     "Parra refused to respond and again ordered Ramirez to turn around, demanding Ramirez put his hands behind his back.
     "Ramirez complied with the orders of Parra.
     "Parra then demanded Ramirez to put his hands closer together behind his back.
     "Ramirez turned around and asked Parra in a calm, non-threatening manner to identify himself.
     "At this time, and without providing any warning, Parra withdrew his Taser gun from his holster and deployed two darts into Ramirez's chest and activated the Taser. Ramirez fell to the floor.
     "Ramirez fell to the floor."
     Ramirez stood up after being Tasered, dazed and confused, but still non-violent, the family says in the complaint. Parra warned Ramirez that he could shoot him, the complaint states.
     "Ramirez raised his arms and said 'Shoot me.'
     "At this time, Parra withdrew his firearm from his holster and shot four bullets at Ramirez.
     "Parra was approximately eight feet away at the time he fired four shots at Ramirez, and three bullets struck Ramirez.
     "Ramirez was approximately 5' 11" but weighed only about 120 pounds.
     "Plaintiffs believe that Parra was physically much stronger than Ramirez.
     "At no time was Ramirez armed or in the vicinity of a weapon. Ramirez did not threaten Parra's safety or engage in any conduct that would cause a reasonable person to believe that Ramirez intended to threaten or harm Parra or anyone else, or to flee or otherwise attempt to avoid Parra. Ramirez did not commit any crime in Parra's presence."
     While Ramirez lay bleeding out on the living room floor, Parra did nothing to help him, the family says. In fact, he prevented the family from going to him.
     "Approximately five minutes after the shooting, George and Mercedes Ramirez were held at gunpoint in the living room by an unknown deputy sheriff who arrived on scene. They had not threatened anyone, and there was no basis whatsoever to point a loaded weapon at them or to prevent them from helping their son.
     "Other sheriff's deputies arrived on scene, none of whom rendered any first aid to Ramirez. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has a policy to not render aid if it appears that an individual, shot by a member of its department, will likely die without aid," the complaint states.
     An ambulance arrived nearly 40 minutes later and took Ramirez to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Meanwhile, deputies had arrested the rest of the family and interrogated them at department headquarters while officers ransacked the home, according to the complaint.
     The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department told the Modesto Bee that Parra went to the Ramirez home after a report of a family fight, but has declined further comment on the shooting. The family filed a $61 million claim against the county in October 2012, which officials rejected.
     "Anything that results in death or bodily harm is a tragic event," Stanislaus County Counsel John Doering told the Bee. "We are investigating to make sure the county did everything it could to make sure the safety of the public was addressed."
     Doering told the Bee the $61 million claim - $15 million for damages and $10 million to $12 million for four surviving family members - was excessive.
     "When you are talking about a $15 million claim, it's hard to imagine there is any reality in that number," Doering said.
     The Ramirez family calls Parra's actions, and the lack of action from other Stanislaus County deputies, "completely uncalled for and an abuse of power."
     "We called law enforcement to see if we could get help for him and we didn't get it," Ramirez's father told the Turlock Journal. "Instead, he shot him."
     The family is represented by Michael S. Warda of Turlock.

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