SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – Santa Clara city officials approved a $5.3 million settlement with the family of Jesus Geney-Montes, who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2017.
Members of the city council approved the settlement with Geney-Montes’ parents Amanda and Richard Sommers in closed session Tuesday. Officials said the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing.READ MORE: Fmr. SF Public Utilities Commission GM Harlan Kelly Charged With Bank Fraud In Bribery, Corruption Scandal
“The City recognizes the grief and ongoing loss for the Sommers family, and it is with the sincere hope that settling this case will help the family begin to deal with the loss of their son,” officials said in a statement Wednesday.
Geney-Montes was shot by Officer Colin Stewart during a standoff on March 9, 2017. In November of that year, prosecutors cleared Stewart of wrongdoing and released a 53-page public report that concluded the shooting was justified.
Police responded to calls for service at Geney-Montes’ home five times on the day of the shooting. In the first four cases, no crime had been committed and police said it was safer to back off after investigating the calls at the Deborah Drive home where he lived with his mother and stepfather, according to the district attorney’s office.
During those visits, Geney-Montes allegedly threatened his stepfather, himself, and officers, saying he had a gun and would shoot them if they came in, prosecutors said.
The final call came around 5 p.m. that day, with Geney-Montes’ mother reporting he had stabbed himself and escaped out of his bedroom window.READ MORE: California Drought: Gov. Newsom Declares Expanded Drought Emergency, Calls For Statewide Conservation
Prosecutors released a graphic body camera video of the shooting from Stewart’s perspective, which showed Geney-Montes walking away from officers during a standoff prior to the shots being fired as officers attempted to have him surrender peacefully.
Officers can be heard telling Geney-Montes during the video, “you’re not going to die today” as they attempted to get him down from his perch on an embankment on the Scott Boulevard overpass above the officers’ position.
He told officers during the standoff that he had a gun and would kill them, although he was later found to be unarmed. Prosecutors said Geney-Montes had his hand in his pockets for most of the standoff.
As Geney-Montes walked away from the officers, Stewart and other officers jumped a fence that was separating them and Geney-Montes, who kept walking away and passed through a gated door underneath the overpass and near the railroad tracks.
The video shows Stewart approaching Geney-Montes, at first attempting to use his Taser stun gun to subdue him, which prosecutors said was ineffective. Mere seconds after that, the video shows Geney-Montes appearing to approach Stewart, with the door still between Stewart and Geney-Montes before the officer fired four shots at the suspect, fatally injuring him.
Prosecutors said that Geney-Montes was mentally ill and suicidal in the standoff leading up to the shooting, claiming he was armed and had in fact stabbed himself several times sometime during the standoff before being shot. A bloody knife was found in bushes near where he jumped a fence.
Following the shooting, Geney-Montes’ parents filed a wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit against the city and police.MORE NEWS: Days May Be Numbered For Controversial Thomas Fallon Statue In San Jose
City officials said following Geney-Montes’ death, the department has taken several steps in addressing situations involving people with mental illness, including training on de-escalation techniques. The department has also launch a non-uniformed Crisis Intervention Specialist unit that works with mental health and adult protective services.