We brought you this story last year after Upland PD shot at a young man they suspected was brown and in the wrong place. Now the brother, who fortunately survived the attack, is filing a lawsuit against the officers and the department for excessive force. Here's an article from the Daily Bull:
Upland man who was shot 10 times sues city, police department and officers
By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
POSTED: 04/03/14, 8:19 PM PDT | 4 COMMENTS
UPLAND >> A man who was shot 10 times by police last year is suing the city, claiming the officer-involved shooting at close range was unjustified.
In a lawsuit filed in West Valley Superior Court against Upland’s police department and three officers, Upland-based attorney Robert Schauer alleges the police officers used excessive force when they shot then 18-year-old Christian Rodriguez several times at close range, and that he did not pose a threat to law enforcement.
However, police said last year that Rodriguez was armed with a handgun when he was shot.
“There was no gun, no knife by their own admission,” said Schauer, based on police transcripts. “They made a terrible, terrible mistake.”
The complaint alleges negligence by police offers Craig Sipple, Nicolas Peelman and John Bonhus for failing to determine if Rodriguez had a weapon, and that the three officers had a “prior custom and practice to harass citizens and use excessive force.”
The lawsuit also calls into question the supervision and training practices in the department involving the use of force.
“I believe they need to review their shooting policy or either improve the training or change the policy. Do something so that this doesn’t happen again,” Schauer said.
Upland Police Chief Jeff Mendenhall declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Rodriguez based on a report submitted by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Officials in the District Attorney’s Office said investigative reports are not released while a case is ongoing. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for Tuesday.
The incident occurred March 19, 2013, when Rodriguez left his home around 1 a.m. after getting in an argument with his mother. The teenager approached officer Craig Simpson, who was sitting in his patrol vehicle near Greenbelt Park. According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez spoke to the officer briefly and then left on his skateboard.
“At no point did (Rodriguez) ever possess, brandish or threaten the officer with a firearm or weapon of any kind,” the lawsuit states.
It contradicts a statement by Upland Police last year following the shooting. An Upland police spokesman said there was a verbal exchange between an officer, who was in his patrol car, and Rodriguez.
“Rodriguez reached into his pocket to pull something out and the officer reacted accordingly,” said Upland police spokesman Lt. Anthony Yoakum. According to Yoakum, Rodriguez “displayed a handgun in a threatening manner,” and fled as the officer reached for his weapon. Rodriguez fled the scene with a gun in one hand and a skateboard in the other, according to police. He ran from police and was subsequently shot and wounded by officers. Yoakum said he could not comment further because the shooting was under investigation.
But Schauer said his client only had a backpack, laptop, laptop charger, a notebook, an energy drink and his skateboard. A weapon was never recovered, he added.
It is unclear why the police started following him, Schauer said. Rodriguez was afraid and asked to be let into a home.
Standing behind an iron fence, police officers Sipple and Peelman approached the man.
“With no reasonable suspicion or probable cause, defendant Sipple discharged his firearm a single time and struck (Rodriguez),” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Peelman then used his Taser on Rodriguez, causing him to fall on his knees. He was then shot by both Sipple and Peelman, who were about five feet away, a total of ten times in the lower part of his body.
“Expert testimony I have obtained, I believe the kid was shot three or four times while he was laying on the ground,” Schauer said,
The suit goes on to claim Rodriguez was also assaulted by the officers. After being shot, he laid on the ground, his arms spread out when the third officer, Bonhus, entered the backyard where Rodriguez had gotten back on his knees. Bonhus then tased Rodriguez and then “drew his expendable baton and struck (Rodriguez) three times in the left shoulder.”
Rodriguez was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he stayed for several weeks before he was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center.
Doctors have told Schauer that they are surprised Rodriguez survived and refer to him as a “walking marvel.”
Schauer said it is inconceivable to him that police officers would do this and need to be held accountable.
“They shot first and thought later,” he said. “It could be anybody’s kid that this could happen to.”
While Schauer did not have an exact amount, the medical costs incurred by Rodriguez ranges in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It won’t end there, Schauer said, Rodriguez will most likely have to deal with medical issues the rest of his life.
Rodriguez is asking a judge to compensate him for the damages he has incurred as well as attorney fees.
Staff Writer Beatriz Valenzuela contributed to this report.