Wrongful Death Suit in Raymondville Officer-Involved Shooting
Tue, 15 Feb 2011 05:39:27 GMT —
A fire truck ax is at the center of controversy in a Raymondville wrongful death suit filed in federal court.
It stems from a February 2009 fire at a home on West San Francisco Street in Raymondville.
Carlos Cortez, a man described in court documents as "mentally ill," was shot to death by a Raymondville police officer after he reportedly grabbed the ax and swung it at the lawman.
Juan Guerra represents the plaintiff's family.
Reporter: "Why do you believe the police department should have known that he was mentally ill when they were handling him?"
Attorney: "Because they already knew when I was the D.A. [district attorney] ... That we identified 10 mentally ill people... They knew that this Carlos was mentally ill... So they're just starting to be gun-ho about it."
The civil suit claims the city failed to properly train employees on how to handle people with mental disabilities.
Cortez suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder and was not taking his medication at the time, according to Guerra.
He adds how the officer should have first used pepper spray, a stun gun or even rubber bullets to subdue Cortez.
The city defends the officer who still works at the department.
Eleazar Garcia is city manager in Raymondville.
"He was absolved of any wrong doing," Garcia said.
The city manager said the case was investigated by the Texas Rangers.
It was even no billed by a Grand Jury which meant there was insufficient evidence for a criminal trial.
Guerra plans to use eyewitness accounts to prove the officer was in no imminent danger for lethal force.
"He was acting like a child... like a child that sees a fire truck... and is curious about what they have... he wasn't threatening anybody... yea, he grabbed the ax... but he was just like a child playing," Guerra explained.
The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount in damages for alleged civil rights violations.