RICHMOND (CBS SF) — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of an unarmed man killed in Richmond in a 2014 officer-involved shooting, city officials announced Tuesday.
Civil rights attorney John Burris filed the civil lawsuit, which was settled for an undisclosed amount, in federal court in January 2015 regarding the fatal shooting of Richard “Pedie” Perez.
The city of Richmond and Officer Wallace Jensen, who shot Perez outside a liquor store on Sept. 14, 2014, did not admit liability for the incident as part of the settlement, according to city officials.
The Perez family initially launched the lawsuit as an effort to have the officer stripped of his firearm and his ability to carry a firearm. City officials said the settlement, which was apparently sought to avoid further litigation costs, will “hopefully provide some comfort and closure for the family of Perez.”
Rick Perez, father of the fatally shot 24-year-old man, said that the family hasn’t ceased to be interested in having the incident evaluated.
“We weren’t getting anywhere with trying to get a real independent investigation through that lawsuit,” he said. “The fight would’ve continued on and wouldn’t have resulted in anything more.”
Last year, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office deemed the officer’s actions justified in a joint internal investigation with the Richmond Police Department.
At a coroner’s inquest, Jensen testified that the shooting occurred after Perez attempted to grab the officer’s sidearm during a struggle.
The officer testified that he had approached Perez, who was intoxicated, after a store clerk identified him as an individual who was “causing problems.”
Perez’s father said there are witnesses that contradict Jensen’s story. He said the true account of that incident has yet to be told.
On Sept. 25, the Perez family protested at the location of a Richmond visit of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a forum about community policing in hopes of having their voices heard.
“And we’re not demonizing the police, they’re demonizing themselves,” Perez said. “They’re not being held accountable for what they’ve done. … And that’s something we’re seeing across the nation.”
As part of its announcement of the settlement Tuesday, city officials did say an independent investigator has been hired to determine if any police policies were violated in the incident.
City officials confirmed that the investigation, which is being done by former Lodi police Capt. J.P. Badel, found that there were not any
policy violations by Jensen. City officials went on to add that the death of Perez was the only fatality involving a Richmond police officer since 2007.
The use of lethal and non-lethal force comprised 6 percent of the around 3,000 arrests made by the department last year, city officials also said.
Last year, the department became one of the first agencies in the state to issue body cameras to patrol officers, city officials added.
City officials said police “continue to work diligently on effective de-escalation techniques and violence prevention strategies, which have proven successful in reducing the use of deadly force.”
City officials expressed a hope that the community “can further heal and work together to prevent any future tragic loss of life.”
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