DANVILLE (CBS SF) — The family of a man fatally shot by a Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy after a police pursuit in Danville two weeks ago has retained the services of civil rights attorney John Burris, who specializes in representing victims of police violence.
Laudemer Arboleda, a 33-year-old resident of Newark, suffered multiple gunshot wounds when Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Hall opened fire during an encounter that started around 11 a.m. on Nov. 3 in the vicinity of Cottage Place and Laurel Drive.
A person in that area allegedly reported seeing Arboleda exit his vehicle and approach several homes with bags in his hands before getting back in his vehicle to circle the neighborhood.
Responding officers found Arboleda and initiated a traffic stop, but he allegedly led them on a short pursuit, pulling over twice. Instead of surrendering, Arboleda proceeded to the intersection of Front Street and Diablo Road, where he turned and accelerated toward Hall, according to the sheriff’s office.
Hall opened fire. Arboleda was transported to San Ramon Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead.
On Monday afternoon, Burris called the shooting a prime example of poor training and negligent supervision, adding that Arboleda had been shot for “acting suspicious.”
In a complaint filed last week by Burris’ firm, he alleged that Arboleda was slowly driving around the deputies when Hall shot him. He referred to Arboleda’s killing as a case of wrongful death, and announced his intention to seek civil penalties against the town and county.
According to Burris, Hall positioned himself off to the passenger side of Arboleda’s vehicle—which was moving slowly—and shot Arboleda by firing through the front passenger window.
While Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputies are not specifically prohibited from using this tactic by departmental policy, other jurisdictions such as San Francisco have barred law enforcement officers from firing into moving vehicles unless the driver poses a threat due to the presence of a gun or another weapon other than the vehicle itself.
Disabling the driver can turn the vehicle into an “unmanned missile,” Burris said.
There is dashcam and bodyworn camera footage associated with the incident, according to Burris. His firm intends to obtain it as the case moves forward.
“Mr. Arboleda had committed no crime when the police began pursuing him, and from all appearances, it seems his only crime was being the wrong skin color in Danville,” Burris said.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement offering their condolences to the Arboleda family, saying that it’s always “sad and difficult” to lose a loved one, but Sheriff David Livingston accused Burris of “reaching for his well-worn race card.”
“This is not about race,” Livingston said.
This is about a dangerous and reckless person trying to run down
and murder a police officer,” Livingston added. “Once all investigations are completed, we look forward to sharing the full details with the public.”
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